South Africa: Rhino poaching suspects' properties seized

Compiled by the Government Communication and Information System
Date: 09 May 2012
Title: Rhino poaching suspects' properties seized

By America Ngwepe

Polokwane - Properties and assets belonging to Limpopo game farmer Dawie Groenewald were attached during a sting operation involving the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the Hawks and South African Police Service (SAPS) on Wednesday.

Groenewald and veterinary surgeons Karel Toet and Manie du Plessis and nine others were arrested in late 2010 on 1 872 charges related to rhino poaching, making it the highest-profile case in the country, according to the NPA.

The charges include assault, fraud, corruption, malicious damage to property, illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, contravention of the National Environmental Biodiversity Act and racketeering.

"This team has seized assets in the region of R55 million, believed to have been acquired through criminal activities, particularly rhino poaching from Dawie Groenewald, two veterinary surgeons, Drs Karel Toet and Manie du Plessis," said national police spokesperson Colonel Vish Naidoo on Wednesday.

"We are still attaching all 11 suspects' assets and we will make sure that we attach more of them until that [court] case resumes in October this year."

Naidoo said while the matter was still before the court, the provisions of the Proceeds of Crime Act allowed the Asset Forfeiture Unit to seize and preserve the assets of an accused until the case is finalised.

"On conviction of an accused, the seizure is realised and these proceeds are then used to continue with the combating of crime," said Naidoo.

He said the properties, which include houses, helicopters, luxury vehicles, town houses and farms were believed to have been accumulated through rhino poaching activities.

The seizures, which are classified under Uncapped Asset Forfeiture, took place in Musina and Polokwane on Wednesday.

"The operation is expected to last until the end of the day today," said Naidoo, adding that the assets will be placed under curatorship.

With regard to the court case, Naidoo said the matter had been postponed for the defence counsel to file their request for further details as they had not yet submitted such requests on the previous appearance.

Published on: 2012-05-09

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