Rhino poacher to rot in jail!

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Bethuel Mdubane has been convicted and sentenced to 24 years effective imprisonment for rhino poaching and murder amongst other charges.
Bethuel Mdubane has been convicted and sentenced to 24 years effective imprisonment for rhino poaching and murder amongst other charges.

BETHUEL Mdubane was sentenced to 24 years of effective imprisonment for rhino poaching by the Limpopo High Court on Thursday, 16 March, in Polokwane.  

He was also convicted of murder, unlawful possession of a firearm, hunting and shooting two rhinos, unlawful possession of a stolen vehicle, two counts of possession of ammunition, and three counts of possession of prohibited firearms.  

Mdubane (36) was a member of the Waterberg Rangers services working as a security officer preventing the poaching of wild animals at Lapalala Wilderness Nature Reserve.  

Limpopo National Prosecuting Authority’s spokeswoman Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi said on 10 March 2020 the accused was on duty when he shot and killed two rhinos and removed their horns.  

Malabi-Dzhangi said he then killed his accomplice, Primar Salazar Maluleque.  

“He claimed that Maluleque is the one who was poaching the rhinos. The deceased and the accused had differences in sharing the proceeds of the horns,” she said.


He got arrested on 19 November 2022 at his homestead, and during the arrest, police found a riffle, a bag containing a silencer, an axe, a knife and five live pieces of ammunition.  

Malabi-Dzhangi said the horns estimated at R1 million, were never recovered. “During the trial, he pleaded not guilty to the offences. We welcome the sentence and hope that perpetrators will refrain from harming protected animals,” she said.

The second accused, Ebony Mokoena, was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment or a fine of R3 000 for malicious property damage, while the third accused turned into a state witness.  

The court ordered Mdubane’s sentence to run concurrently and declared him unfit to possess a firearm.  

SANParks spokesman Ike Phaahla said they lose R250 million every year on security measures due to poaching. “This could be money that goes to communities around parks and create employment,” he said.  

Phaahla said one animal killed in Mzansi is one too many, and Mdubane deserves the sentence. “This will serve as a message to other poachers. Poaching is a danger to biodiversity management because they play a major role in our ecosystem,”  

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