The SCA has granted the three members of the Ndlovu rhino poaching gang leave to appeal their effective 25-year prison sentences as well as certain aspects of their conviction.

A Daily Dispatch report says it granted the three leave to appeal the admission into evidence key items seized in a police raid which led to their conviction on 55 charges relating to the poaching of 13 rhino over three years in the Eastern Cape.

Without that evidence, the entire case against the three men effectively dissolves and their conviction would fall away.

That key evidence was also used to weave together a complex web of circumstantial evidence. Without it, the men would never have been connected or convicted of any of the 13 poaching incidents.

The men challenged the admissibility of the evidence on the grounds that the police search and seizure was illegal as they had not waited for an arrest warrant before raiding the three men’s room.

The SCA ruled that their appeal against conviction would be limited to whether or not the court had correctly admitted the evidence obtained as a result of the unlawful search.

On sentence, it ordered that the appeal would be limited to whether the cumulative effect of 25 years was ‘shockingly inappropriate’.

It ruled the appeal should be heard by a full Bench of three judges of the Eastern Cape High Court (Makhanda).

Full Daily Dispatch report