Farmer sentenced for dealing with Rhino horns without a permit

A well known, farmer from Mpumalanga was sentenced in the Middelburg Regional Court yesterday for selling rhino horns without a permit

In a statement, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation Mpumalanga said the accused, Deon Cornelius (48) was found guilty and sentenced to pay R10 000.00 or 3 years imprisonment.

Additional compensation fine of R50 000.00 to be paid to the Mpumalanga Parks board. Accused sold 5 of his Legal Rhino horns without a permit.

The hawks explained that on 04 January 2018 information was followed up about a suspect from Gauteng Province who is buying rhino horns from Deon Cornelius at Buffelskloof Middelburg Mpumalanga without a permit to buy nor to transport the rhino horns.

Hawks spokesperson, Dineo Sekgododi said, an intelligence-driven operation was conducted by Members of the Hawks assisted by members of the Dog Unit on 5 January 2018 whereby the team kept observation.

“In the early hours of that morning, the suspect arrived driving a white Lexus vehicle and was stopped and searched. During the search, a rhino horn of a white rhino was found attached to the chassis of the vehicle with cable ties valued to R175 000.00 and cash amount of R699 129.00 and they were seized and Chinese male Yansen Feng and Chinese female Lui Li Hong was arrested”.

“On 12 January 2018 through follow-up investigation additional accused Joseph Albertus Du Plessis and Susanna Johanna Du Plessis were arrested in Bloemfontein and later Deon Cornelius was arrested”.

He was charged for contravention of Section 23 Act 10 of 1998 and the Mpumalanga Nature Conservation Act Dealing in rhino horns without a permit.

The case against the other four accused was finalized in 2018 and they were sentenced as follows:

Accused No.1 Yansen Feng Chinese male was charged for illegal dealing in specially protected species and sentenced to R60 000.00 or six months imprisonment. Further eighteen months imprisonment wholly suspended for five years with the condition that he is not convicted again. To pay R1Millon to Stop Rhino Poaching as a victim compensation.

Accused No.2 Liu Li Hong w Chinese female (34) as charged for illegal possession of Ivory, Illegal possession of drugs, and illegal immigration. The accused was sentenced to pay R60 000.00 or two years imprisonment.

Accused No. 3 Joseph Albertus Du Plessis and accused No.5 Sasanna Du Plessis in Bloemfontein were charged with illegal dealing in protected species and they were sentenced to pay R20 000.00 or two years imprisonment and a case against accused No. 5 was finalized on the 14 September 2020.