The Skukuza Regional Court has convicted and sentenced Een Sihlangu (24) to an effective 15 years of direct imprisonment for poaching-related offences.
The spokesperson for the provincial National Prosecution Authority, Monica Nyuswa, said Sihlangu’s sentence follows his conviction on two counts of trespassing in the Kruger National Park (KNP), two counts of possession of a firearm with a serial number obliterated, two counts of possession of a dangerous weapon and two counts of possession of ammunition.
“He was charged along with his co-accused, Forster Lubisi, who pleaded guilty to the offence and was sentenced to 32 years’ imprisonment by the same court last year. This resulted in a separation of trials,” she said.
Sihlangu was arrested on two separate occasions when he illegally entered the KNP. The first incident happened in 2018 when he was found with Lubisi in possession of a firearm, seven live rounds of ammunition, an axe and a knife.
“He was subsequently arrested and later granted bail, but continued with his rhino poaching spree on April 23, 2021, with the same co-accused, when they entered the Stolzneck Section of the KNP. They were found in possession of eight live rounds of ammunition, three knives and a firearm,” said Nyuswa.
She said he pleaded not guilty during the trial, but later changed his plea to guilty. The state prosecutor, Lot Mgiba, handed in ballistic reports that proved that the firearm of which he was found in possession, was prohibited, with its serial number erased. The state told the court that the accused had not shown remorse for his actions after he had committed the first offence, and that he continued with illegal poaching instead.
The magistrate, Jan Ngobeni, remarked on the swift action of the rangers in arresting Sihlangu twice before he managed to kill a rhino. He sentenced him to 15 years’ direct imprisonment.