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

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Dear Advocate Shamila Batohi, 

RHINO POACHING IN KWAZULU NATAL, SOUTH AFRICA

As a concerned South African citizen and a wildlife conservation activist I hereby formally request the urgent assistance of your 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; and criminal self serving individuals have been operating with impunity. 

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 and attempted rhino poaching cases in KwaZulu Natal that appear to be very unusual. In many of these particular cases the alleged poachers  have lost their lives.  I have a list of these SAPS case numbers. 

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

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 in 2014. 

Prior to these 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 99 rhino were poached in KwaZulu Natal in 2014. 

Joseph, a blogger and founder of Saving the Wild originally from South Africa now living 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 arrest of Dumisani Gwala. 

Joseph has added the narrative, which was not included in 2014 reports 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 fact checked.

We are also hopeful that all the information that has been shared by the various campaigns will be confirmed or denied in a court of law. The video evidence required by the laws that govern the sanctioning of the 252A trap that resulted in the capture will confirm what really took place. 

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.

Although Joseph has reported in the media that there is an attempted murder charge going to be added to the charge sheet, according to NPA officials there is no record of an attempted murder in the official documents. 

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. 

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.

These are serious allegations and as a result the 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 media campaign has also negatively highlighted the judicial system in South Africa internationally.

The Magistrates Commission during their investigations into Mr Eric Nzimande have stated in writing that there is no evidence, yet, linking any rhino related matters to judicial offices in KZN. 

We are still waiting for confirmation of these allegations which should be announced when the Magistrates Commission reveals its findings on the allegations relating specifically to rhino poaching related matters. 

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 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 defense attorney in late February 2019. Nearly three years after it was requested.  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.

The trial of Dumisani Gwala has not yet commenced, dates have finally been set down for 24th April 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.  

 

Image Credit Megan Carr, Rhino in KZN

 

 

 



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