Towards the end of May in 2020 16 suspects were apprehended for their involvement in an illegal hunting incident on a farm near Hofmeyr.
Through a well-orchestrated joint operation involving local farmers, the SAPS, and Environmental Affairs a positive outcome was obtained.
Two minibus taxis were spotted entering a farm on the day of the incident, and it was suspected that the occupants of these vehicles were preparing to embark on an illegal hunting operation. The local farmer network was mobilised and the SAPS along with Environmental Affairs were called to assist and lead the operation to apprehend the suspects. Through a joint effort these responders cordoned off the area in which the suspected vehicles were spotted and the responders closed in on the suspected poachers.
By the time law enforcement and the local volunteers closed in on the suspects they had already begun their illegal hunting operation with the use of 32 hunting dogs. The authorities apprehended the 16 suspects red handed with a total of 12 slaughtered springbok carcasses in their possession.
Following this successful operation, the poachers were taken into custody by the SAPS and Environmental affairs opened criminal charges against the accused for illegal hunting with dogs.
The National Prosecuting Authority is to be commended for taking up the mantle in the court proceedings that followed and for ensuring a conviction was obtained for 10 of the 16 accused.
While Agri Eastern Cape is extremely pleased that a conviction was obtained and that these criminals were brought to justice, in the same breath we are disappointed in the manner in which the sentence was handed down.
The original sentence was for 6 years or a fine of R6000.00. half of this sentence was suspended, which effectively entitles these criminals to pay a R3000.00 fine and walk out of the courthouse to continue their lives as normal.
It is the view of Agri Eastern Cape that the sentence should have been much harsher and that the vehicles used to commit these crimes should have been seized and forfeited to the state.
This was the perfect case to set a precedent and illustrate to the criminal network operating in the Eastern Cape that Justice will be served and that these actions will not be tolerated.
Rural Safety Manager
Agri Eastern Cape