Alleged rhino-horn kingpin and big game hunter arrested for possession of 19 rhino horns get bail

The Nelspruit magistrate’s court has postponed the matter against alleged rhino-horn kingpin Johannes Groenewald, 53, and professional big game hunter Schalk Steyn,48, to 17 September after both were granted bail of R50 000 each on Friday. 

The duo appeared in court after being arrested on Wednesday while allegedly transporting 19 rhino horns in two vehicles. They were charged with the illegal possession and selling of the horns, valued at R2.6-million 

During their first appearance on Thursday, the matter was ruled to fall under the ambit of schedule 5 offences.

Schedule 5 offences include among others, treason, murder, corrupt activity involving amounts of more than R500 000 for an individual and R100 000 if it is alleged that the offence was committed by a person, group of persons or syndicate acting in common purpose or conspiracy. If convicted, a first offender under schedule 5 can face a minimum of 15 years imprisonment.  

Steyn, better known as AB Steyn, and Groenewald, widely known as Dawie, did not physically appear in court as the premises were closed for Covid-19 decontamination. 

Following consultation between the defence and the investigating officer, the court ruled that the accused could submit their affidavits at the police station “due to the difficult situation that we all find ourselves under,” National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson in Mpumalanga province, Monica Nyuswa told the Mail & Guardian

The state did not oppose bail but asked that it be granted with certain conditions, including the accused submitting their passports to the police, reporting once a week at their nearest police station, not interfering with state witnesses and informing the investigating officers should they want to leave their respective provinces. 

Groenewald is not a first time offender. 

He has a pending case relating to similar charges against him and six others in Musina, the Hawks’ Colonel Katlego Mogale confirmed on Friday.

Groenewald, his wife, two veterinarians and professional hunters made headlines in 2010 when they were arrested after a 15-month investigation allegedly linking them to illegal rhino-poaching operations stretching over four years, the M&G reported on Friday

After more than a decade the case is still ongoing at the Pretoria high court.

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Eunice Stoltz
Eunice Stoltz is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

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