Poacher pays R100k fine
One of the alleged central players in the so-called Groenewald rhino poaching syndicate, professional hunter Nardus Rossouw, has been released on bail for a second time after paying a R100 000 fine for the illegal possession of rhino horn in a separate case.
Judge Pierre Rabie yesterday granted R30 000 bail to Rossouw, linked to strict bail conditions.
Rossouw will live with his sister in Pretoria and will notify the investigating officer if he manages to find a job. He may also not leave Gauteng without informing the investigating officer.
He was out on bail in the Groenewald case when he was rearrested in October last year after being caught with 11 illegal rhino horns. He pleaded guilty and was fined R100 000 in the Makopane Regional Court last month after claiming he didn’t commit the offences out of greed but because of a misplaced desire “to help a very ill person to get funds”.
The High Court in Pretoria in February dismissed an application by Rossouw and Karen Toet, one of his co-accused in the Groenewald syndicate matter, to strike the criminal case against them and six co-accused off the court roll because of the unreasonable delay in the trial.
Their trial was postponed until February 2021, pending a constitutional challenge to the legitimacy of the charges by fellow accused Polokwane game farmer Dawie Groenewald and some of the other accused.
He said in an affidavit in support of his new bail application there was no reasonable idea when the constitutional application would be concluded or if their trial would actually start in February 2021.
Even if their trial did start in 2021, it could take years to conclude in light of the over 1 600 charges (of which he only faced 15), during which time he would have to remain in custody while the other accused were out on bail, he added. He insisted he was not guilty of any other offence, had no cause to abscond and would stand his trial to clear his name.
Rossouw was also prepared to help authorities in further investigating the pending matter.
The trial of alleged multimillion-rand rhino poaching syndicate leader Hugo Ras and his co-accused has been postponed for another year pending the outcome of a constitutional challenge to the regulations underpinning some of the charges.
A warrant was also authorised for the arrest of one of Ras’ co-accused, the syndicate’s alleged main hunter Mandla Magagula, but it’s been held over until the end of January 2019, when he will have to appear in court or forfeit his bail.