UPDATE: Accused in Mbombela rhino horn bust identified
They made their first appearance in the Nelspruit Magistrate’s Court on Thursday afternoon.
The two men who were arrested for the illegal possession and selling of rhino horns on Wednesday appeared in the Nelspruit Magistrate’s Court on Thursday afternoon.
They are Schalk Abraham Steyn (48), better known to Lowvelders as AB, and Limpopo game farmer, Dawid Groenewald (52).
The case was postponed to Friday for a formal bail application. They will remain in custody until then. It is not yet clear in which court the case will be heard.
According to the Hawks’ Col. Katlego Mogale, Steyn and Groenewald were arrested on Wednesday in a multidisciplinary operation conducted by the Hawks’ Organised Crime Investigation Unit, Wildlife Trafficking Counter-intelligence, and the private sector, in their continued effort to curb wildlife trafficking in Mbombela.
“The duo were arrested while allegedly transporting 19 rhino horns in two bakkies,” Mogale said in a statement.
“An investigation to ascertain if the suspects are linked to crimes contravening the Endangered Species Act is continuing,” she said.
In May 2018, Lowvelder reported on Steyn after he was arrested and appeared in the Pretoria Criminal Court for an alleged fake sale of buffaloes. He has since been handed a five-year suspended sentence.
Groenewald, a Limpopo businessman and game breeder, first appeared in court in 2010 after he and 10 others were arrested following a 15-month investigation.
Groenewald, at the time, was pinpointed as the mastermind behind one of South Africa’s largest rhino poaching syndicates.
His co-accused, which included two veterinary surgeons and a pilot, were linked to hundreds of illegal rhino poaching incidents over a four-year period and initially faced over 1 800 charges.
These charges ranged from racketeering, money laundering, illegal hunting of rhino, dealing in rhino horn, and contravening the Biodiversity and Prevention of Organised Crime Act.