Demanding Justice for the People and the Rhino in KwaZulu, Natal, South Africa

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Dear Advocate Shamila Batohi, 

SUSPICIOUS RHINO POACHING CASES AND RELATED MATTERS

KWAZULU NATAL, SOUTH AFRICA

As a concerned South African citizen and a wildlife conservation volunteer, I hereby, on behalf of all the signatories formally request the urgent assistance of your esteemed office.  

Our country has undergone a tumultuous decade where many state run institutions have been compromised and have therefore not been able to operate effectively.   Criminal,  self-serving individuals seem to have been operating with impunity. This is especially obvious in some of our police departments and police divisions as well as in our National Prosecuting Authority. 

In particular, I would like to bring your attention to the following matters that need urgent follow up investigation. 

There have been many recorded rhino poaching,  attempted rhino poaching or trespassing on land where there might be rhino criminal cases opened in northern KwaZulu Natal, that appear, on paper to be very unusual. In many of these particular cases, the alleged poachers have lost their lives and very few suspects have faced conviction. I have a list of these suspicious SAPS case numbers.  

On closer inspection, whilst these particular incidents have received official police case numbers, many of these cases were never even enrolled in a court of law.  When questioned, representatives of the NPA have cited insufficient, non-existent evidence or corruption as being the reason.  

A high level official investigation into these suspicious matters was undertaken in 2016.  I have the details of this investigation.  

Presently, one of most widely reported and most curious  rhino poaching related incidents in KwaZulu Natal, is the Dumisani Gwala matter.

According to numerous media reports, the notorious and the alleged KZN Rhino poaching syndicate leader, Dumisani Gwala, was “captured” in a trap on the 18th of December 2014. 

Prior to these media reports surrounding his capture there is no mention of this man with regard to rhino poaching.  He also has no prior police record with regard to rhino poaching or illegal wildlife trading. You would be hard pressed not to think that this was a case of mistaken identity. 

The details of the “capture” were not supplied by the South African Police but by Barend Lottering, owner of Nyathi APU and Simon Naylor who is the head of conservation at andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve and who is also one of the directors of the Munyawana Conservation Fund. 

They jointly stated, in very detailed media reports, with supplied images, that “the capture” took place after an eight-month undercover Police operation.  

Dumisani Gwala, they concluded is apparently responsible for 80% of the Rhino poaching that takes place in KZN.   

To give some context according to official DEA records 99 rhino were poached in KwaZulu Natal in 2014. 

Jamie Joseph, a South African blogger and founder of the Saving the Wild charity which is registered in New Zealand, was employed, according to sources, by Nyathi APU to assist with the Dumisani Gwala media campaign in January 2016.  

Joseph has informed her followers, on various social media platforms,  that ex-Policeman Jean Pierre Van Zyl Roux is the mastermind behind the investigation, capture and arrest of Dumisani Gwala, he is also involved with all the other cases that require the urgent attention of your office. 

Joseph has added the narrative, which was not according to the NPA, included in 2014 reports nor on the original police docket, but has been widely published in the media, that during the arrest process, Gwala apparently tried to run over one of the arresting officers with his car.  

We have not been able to substantiate this information. 

However, we are hopeful that all the information that has been so widely published in her international media campaign has indeed been carefully vetted as it will of course be confirmed or denied in a court of law. 

The video evidence required by the laws that governs the sanctioning of the 252A trap that resulted in the capture will confirm what really took place at the capture scene. 

Despite the eight-month prior investigation, according to the NPA, the official Police documents apparently state that Dumisani Gwala was charged with conspiracy to deal in rhino horn and that this misdemeanor allegedly took place during a South African Police reverse-sting operation. Clearly the eight-month investigation did not deliver sufficient evidence for an arrest. 

Joseph has continually reported in the media that there was an attempted murder charge that was going to be added to the charge sheet.  According to NPA officials there is no record of an attempted murder charge in the official police documents. Similarly when the dockets were presented at the bail hearing there was no mention of an attempted murder charge. 

Similarly, based upon the aforementioned official charges, which are allegedly recorded on all official Police records, Dumisani Gwala was granted bail of R10 000.00.  This bail amount was granted in a court of law by an experienced Magistrate with a Senior Prosecutor in attendance. 

An attempted murder charge was curiously added on the 24th April 2019. 

Furthermore, despite all the allegations, once again made in the media campaign by Lottering, Naylor and Joseph about of fleets of expensive cars and a mansion, according to the NPA and SAPS a single car belonging to Dumisani Gwala was returned to him on his successful bail application. 

During the period 2016 to date, Joseph has alleged amongst other, that bribes have been paid to named, justice officials in order to keep Dumisani Gwala out of the courtroom and out of jail.

In January 2017, according to Joseph, she was finally able to prove these allegations when a witness contacted her via email.  In order to protect his identity she named him Fresh. She described in detail in a radio interview broadcast in New Zealand in October of 2017.  It has been stated in various media publications that Fresh’s evidence was checked by Van Zyl Roux and Lieutenant Colonel Jason McGray.  He was also apparently given a lie detector test. 

Fresh admitted according to Joseph that he was employed by Advocate Ngwenya during 2015 and the early part of 2016, that he was hired to pay Magistrate Ngcobo by Advocate Ngwenya in the rhino related matter between the state and Warrant Officer Christopher Gumbi. 

Fresh also admitted according to Joseph that he was hired to pay Magistrate Shandu by attorney Ms Linda in the rhino related matter between the state and Dumisani Gwala.

Based upon this tested evidence according to media reports, McGray recommended that Magistrate Shandu be recused.  This was disallowed. Fresh’s affidavit and the supporting affidavits by McGray, Joseph and Van Zyl Roux were also refused. Prosecutor Yuri Gangai was removed as prosecutor on the Gwala matter.  Advocate Noko head of the NPA in KZN stated at the time,  in a media release that the evidence in Fresh’s affidavit was not conclusive. 

The allegations in Fresh’s affidavit are serious and as a result the Gwala matter has been moved from Mtubatuba Court to Ngwelezane Court and back again.  This has drawn out the matter which is very costly for the state and in fact for the accused.  The resulting ongoing media campaign has also negatively highlighted the judicial system in South Africa internationally.

McGray, a lead investigator in the enquiry of the  Magistrates Commission into Mr Eric Nzimande has according to media publications also suggested that there maybe a link between the named magistrates in the rhino matters and matters concerning Nzimande. However representatives of the Magistrates Commission have stated in writing that there is no evidence, yet, linking any rhino related matters to judicial officials in KZN. 

There are also rumors that Gwala’s lawyers have been intimidated by the allegations in the ongoing media campaign.  

We would very much like to have clarity on all these allegations. 

We have also been informed by two different legal teams that they are of the opinion that the state might have delayed proceedings with regarding providing evidence timeously.  Indeed, video evidence required by the 252A was only delivered to the Gwala defense attorney in late February 2019. Nearly three years after it was requested in writing.   The writer was present in court on the 29th January 2019 and privy to the various excuses provided by the state in this regard. 

The opposite has been reported in the media. 

We, ask now that the NPA expedites a streamlined, speedy judicial process in this matter. 

The trial of Dumisani Gwala commenced on the 24th April 2019.  Mr Aubrey Dlamini one of the co-accused was too ill to continue, the matter resumes on the 20th of June 2019. 

Whilst Joseph has stated in the media that the court officials have received death threats.  We have not been able to confirm this allegation. Similarly the writer has been present on six occasions at Ngwelezane and Mtubatuba Courts and there were no death threats issued and no need for security of any kind.  We sincerely hope that these unsubstantiated allegations do not delay this matter. 

 

IMPORTANT NOTE:

The author of this petition has received written threats by email and suffered intimidation on social media.  The issuer of the threats has made no attempt to disguise herself. 

Despite opening a criminal case in two provinces in South Africa the intimidation continues on social media, this has been forwarded to the relevant authorities and the South African Police.  

Failure to take the matter seriously in a court of law has also been reported to the Magistrate’s Commission. 

Megan Carr

THANK YOU FOR SIGNING OUR PETITION PLEASE MAKE SURE THAT IF YOU DO DECIDE TO COMMENT THAT YOUR COMMENTS ARE FREE OF RACIAL INUENDO OR HATE SPEECH.  

 

 

 


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