Cape Town – A rhino poacher, Silvester Sidney Zitha (40) was sentenced to an effective 17 years imprisonment by the Skukuza Regional Court on Tuesday, November 15.
His sentence stemmed from a rhino poaching incident in which Zitha and his accomplice were caught soon after entering the Kruger National Park via Tshokwana Section between October 18 and 19, 2018.
According to a statement by the South African Police Services (SAPS), the suspects were apprehended after a 3km pursuit on foot.
On the morning of October 19, 2018 field rangers spotted human tracks in the Kingfisher ranger area. After informing their leader, a chopper was called to assist with the search.
“The foot prints were followed until around 16h00 on that day (19 October 2018) when the rangers heard sound of gunshots and thereafter at approximately 5 meters, they saw two males running towards their direction. One of the men was in possession of a bag and an axe whilst the other was in possession of a firearm,” said SAPS spokesperson, Brigadier Selvy Mohlala.
“The rangers then ordered them to immediately stop, however the two continued to run whilst dropping off the items they were carrying. A chase ensued for about 3 kilometres but the pair was apprehend,” Mohlala added.
Two backpacks were found in their possession with rhino horns. Another backpack with ammunition and a .458 hunting rifle with a silencer on was also discovered. An axe was also confiscated.
After being summoned, the Police arrested Zitha and his accomplice. They also discovered that Zitha was in South Africa without valid documentation.
During their court appearance, a bail application was made. Zitha was denied bail while his co-accused was granted it. His co-accused never returned to court as he passed away, leaving Zitha to stand trial alone.
On Tuesday, November 15, 2022, Zitha was found guilty on 7 counts, culminating in 17 years of imprisonment.
Compiled by Junaid Benjamin