The Limpopo Polokwane High Court has convicted and sentenced Rhino poacher Bethuel Mdubane to 24 years imprisonment for murder. 

He was also sentenced for unlawful possession of a firearm, hunting and shooting two rhinos. Unlawful possession of stolen property (car), two counts of possession of ammunition, and three counts of unlawful possession of prohibited firearms.

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The second accused, Ebony Mokoena was sentenced to 18 months or a fine of R 3000 for malicious damage to property, while accused number three turned into a state witness. The court further ordered the sentence to run concurrently, and the accused is declared unfit to possess a firearm. 

The first accused was a member of Waterberg Rangers services. Working as a security officer preventing the poaching of wild animals including the rhinos at Lapalala Wilderness Nature Reserve. On 10 March 2020, the accused was on duty when he shot and killed two rhinos and further removed their horns.

He then killed Primar Salazar Maluleque (his accomplice), claiming that he was the one who was poaching the rhinos. The deceased and the accused had differences in sharing the proceeds for the rhino horns.

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The rhino horns were never recovered and the estimated value for both horns is R1 million. On 19 November 2022, when the police officers were arresting the accused in his homestead. They found a 303 rifle, a bag containing a silencer, an axe, a knife, and 5x 303 live ammunition. During the trial, the accused pleaded not guilty to the offenses.

Murderer gets 24 years imprisonment for

In aggravation of the sentence, the state Adv. Trott Mphahlele submitted that the accused be found guilty of serious offenses which are prevalent in this jurisdiction. The accused has also not shown any element of remorse.

He then said that the crimes of rhino poaching are increasing yearly and they are not coming to an end. He further said that it is upon the court to send a strong message to the would-be offenders.