On Monday this week, SA Breaking News reported that 10 members of a suspected rhino poaching syndicate had been remanded in police custody until their formal bail application to be heard next Monday (29 September). Add your signature to a petition aimed at denying them bail (see link below).
Police spokesman Paul Ramaloko said that the suspects allegedly illegally obtained 84 rhino horns and killed 22 rhinos valued at nearly US$2 million. ‘The intelligence-led arrest comes after a year-long investigation by key stakeholders in government and the private sector,’ he commented, adding that one of the accused, Hugo Ras, is thought to have been running the syndicate for some five years.
To find out more about this man and his activities read Julian Rademeyer’s comments here. They paint a chilling picture of the man. (Rademeyer is the author of the best-selling exposé Killing for Profit).
‘The team arrested the other members of this criminal group simultaneously in Polokwane in Limpopo, Ficksburg in the Free State, Potchefstroom in the North West, and in Montana, Mamelodi and Kameeldrift in Gauteng,’ Ramaloko continued.
The suspects, Ras, his wife, Trudie Ras, and his brothers, Anton Ras and Arno Smith, Bonnie Steyn, a pilot from Ficksburg, Willie Oosthuizen, a warrant officer of the Hawks in Pretoria, Joseph Wilkinson, an attorney from Pretoria, Christoffel Scheepers, Mandla Magagula and Willem van Jaarsveld briefly appeared in the Hatfield Magistrate’s Court on several rhino-poaching charges.
Lieutenant General Anwa Dramat , the National Head of the Hawks, said they will continue to address these types of syndicates: ‘They have no sympathy towards our already endangered species – rhinos. It is clear that they have no regard for the rule of law.
Allison Thomson from Outraged South African Citizens Against Rhino Poaching (Oscap) said they were grateful to finally see the syndicate behind bars. ‘We salute all those organisations that were involved in these arrests for their tireless behind the scenes work and applaud them’, she commented.
Now concerned members of the public have created a petition appealing to the magistrate to deny bail for the ‘Ras 10’ at the formal hearing on Monday. The petition draws attention to the fact that the accused face no fewer than
318 charges related to their involvement in rhino poaching and other associated crimes. Furthermore, ‘the accused all have the means and ability to flee the country’ reads the petition posted on AVAAZ.org, on Tuesday.
The petition and already has over 5,000 signatures from people all over the world. Add yours here.