First conviction in alleged Groenewald rhino mafia case
A Limpopo man who faces a string of criminal charges together with alleged rhino horn kingpin Dawie Groenewald, has been fined R100 000 in a separate matter. Nardus Rossouw, a professional hunter who was charged along with Groenewald's Musina Mafia in 2010, appeared in the Mokopane Regional Court after spending the past year in police custody for illegally trafficking rhino horns without permits.
He is the first of Groenewald's co-accused to be convicted of and sentenced for illegally trafficking rhino horn. Rossouw chose to pay the fine, but remains behind bars for violating bail conditions applicable to his 2010 arrest. He could remain in jail until the Groenewald trial starts in 2021, pending a successful appeal.
Rossouw also forfeited his previous bail of R20 000.
Rossouw was fingered after a dodgy scheme designed to outwit Limpopo conservation officials and sell horns illegally on the black market went sour, says News24. According to the charge sheet, a number of rhinoceros were legally dehorned on 5 April 2016 at a Lephalale game farm belonging to Adriaan du Plessis, leaving him as the registered owner of 11 rhino horns.
However, after experiencing a problem with the micro-chip scanner, Rossouw suggested the horns be taken to a veterinarian for scanning. After the scanning, a Limpopo Environment Department officer instructed Rossouw to take the horns back to Du Plessis.
Later, the Hawks arranged an undercover operation after receiving information about a possible illegal rhino horn deal. Three people were later arrested with 18 rhino horns, seven of which originated from the dehorning at Du Plessis' farm. Du Plessis acknowledged that he unlawfully gave 11 rhino horns to Rossouw without him being in possession of a valid permit. As part of a plea agreement, Du Plessis was sentenced to a R200 000 or five years' imprisonment, half of which was suspended.
Article disclaimer: While we have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of this article, it is not intended to provide final legal advice as facts and situations will differ from case to case, and therefore specific legal advice should be sought with a lawyer.