A rhino poacher was sentenced to 37 years in prison for the killing of a rhino and her baby in Kruger National Park back in 2015.
Norman Khoza (35) was convicted on eight poaching and firearm-related charges in the Mhala Regional Court.
As per a statement posted on the National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa’s (NPA) Facebook page, Khoza was arrested in March of 2015 in Kruger National Park after a field ranger found rhino carcasses and followed the poacher’s tracks.
Khoza was found guilty of being an illegal immigrant, trespassing in a national park, possession of an unlicensed hunting rifle, possession of a firearm with the intent to commit crime, possession of unlicensed ammunition, possession of dangerous weapons (an axe and knives), as well as the illegal hunting of an adult female rhino and a rhino calf.
While Khoza pleaded not guilty, the state was able to provide evidence supplied by the rangers and the officer investigating the case, as well as DNA of the three horns that were found with Khoza.
While determining the sentence, the state addressed the court by sharing the plight of the rhino species and the immense strain that is put on rangers. The detrimental effect on the economy, Khoza’s lack of remorse, and the brutality and heartlessness of the killings. These factors were all taken into consideration along with the public outcry that ensued calling for justice to be served for the rhino mother and her calf who were viciously killed.
In handing down the sentence, the presiding officer considered all relevant factors and indicated that the court is “in the service of the community and the voice for animals which cannot speak for themselves.”
“Poaching has a negative side effect that can have impact on local communities, wildlife populations, and the environment,” concluded the statement from the NPA which welcomed the sentence.