9 May 2018, Lephalale, Limpopo: The Provincial Commissioner of the South African Police Service in Limpopo, Lieutenant General Nneke Ledwaba is elated by the sentence meted out to the convicted Rhino poacher, Freitas Antonio Xavier aged 57, who was on Monday 2018-05-07 sentenced by Lephalale Regional court to R1 million fine or ten (10) years imprisonment.
This sentence emanates from a case that was investigated by the Endangered Species Unit of the South African Police Service.
The case was reported in Lephalale in January 2017. The meticulous detective work that was carried out by members of this unit ensured that the accused ended up pleading guilty to the charges.
Prior to the apprehension of the said game farmer, the investigating team was led to the scene at his farm in a well-coordinated operation. On arrival the following were recovered:
eight (8) rhino feet in a cold room
seven (7) carcasses in a cold room
one (1) decomposed rhino carcass
two (2) rhino hides (skins) and some bones dug from the ground at the same farm.
two (2) rhino heads in a cold room
The accused was convicted and sentenced on charges of hunting of specially protected animals without permit, Possession/donation of rhino parts without permit and selling of rhino meat without permit.
The Provincial Commissioner has commended all members who were involved in these investigations and urged them to leave no stone unturned until all those who received the rhino horns are also arrested.
The police are still following up on the information that a helicopter was seen in the vicinity which raised the suspicion that the rhino horns might have been taken to other destinations.
Anyone with information is requested to contact Warrant Officer Johannes Jurgengs van Heerden at 0828144300.