National Park

Kruger National Park rhino poacher is 53 and will purge less than half

Johan founded Saving the Survivors, an NGO aimed at treating injured wild animals. (PHOTO: Grandpa Morake)

  • A man was sentenced to 53 years in prison for poaching rhinos, but will effectively serve less than half.
  • He fled after securing bail in a rhino poaching case and was arrested on similar charges two years later.
  • His co-defendant is still at large.

A 39-year-old Mozambican was sentenced this week to 53 years in prison for poaching rhinos – but he will only serve an effective 23 years.

Mike Nyathi’s sentence was handed down by Skukuza Regional Court on Friday.

Nyathi, who has South African nationality, was first arrested on September 17, 2017 by rangers in the Kingfisherspruit section of Kruger National Park,

The rangers found a limping rhino that had been shot (and later died from his injuries and followed in the footsteps of Nyathi and his accomplice.

They were found hiding in an area not far from the injured rhino, according to South Africa’s National Parks (SANParks).

They were arrested and released on bail, but both failed to appear in court and fled.

Nyathi was finally re-arrested in 2019 and his co-defendant remains at large.

“On May 13, 2019, Satara Rangers noticed a trail of suspected poachers that they followed,” SANParks said.

READ | 3 rhino poachers caught in Kruger National Park jailed after pleading guilty

They first found a large caliber rifle that had been dropped by the fleeing suspects and found Nyathi hiding nearby.

He was detained and handed over to the South African Police Service for processing.

SANParks said during the police investigation it was discovered he was wanted in connection with the 2017 incident. The two cases were combined for trial.

The court convicted him of 12 of the 14 charges he faced and sentenced him to 53 years in prison.

He will only serve 23 years because some of the sentences will be carried out simultaneously in terms of judgment.

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