The Department of Justice has achieved a conviction rate of 78% in cases of rhino poaching.
According to Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha, between April 2015 and March 2016, there were 49 finalised cases involving 103 accused.
“A total of 80 of these accused were convicted, resulting in a conviction rate of 78%,” he said.
Minister Masutha was speaking on Sunday in Pretoria during a media briefing that was held by Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa.
Minister Molewa was providing a report back on the progress of the Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros, which was announced by Cabinet in August 2014.
She was joined by Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), Lieutenant-General Mthandazo Ntlemeza and the chairperson of the Committee of Inquiry on the Feasibility of Rhino Trade, Nana Magomola.
Ntlemeza said since 1 January 2016, a total of 206 alleged poachers have been arrested in South Africa.
“These successes are the result of the improved collaboration within the security cluster, as well as working with communities and non-governmental organisations,” he said.
The Hawks currently have six projects under investigation. Four of them are on the court roll and 11 major investigations are underway in relation to rhino matters.
Minister Molewa said there has been an increase in poaching activities in the Kruger National Park.
“In comparison to the first four months of last year when 808 incursions took place, the number of poaching activities now stands at a staggering 1 038 in the Kruger National Park alone.
“This increase translates to an average of nine incursions per day, compared to seven incursions per day in the same period last year,” she said.
Minister Molewa said the number of carcasses of poached rhinos in the Kruger National Park for the same period has decreased from 302 to 232 (23%).
On a national level, the numbers of rhinos poached have decreased slightly.
In the first four months of this year, 363 rhino were poached in the country, while during the same period last year, the national figure stood at 404.
Minister Molewa said the detection capacity at the ports has been increased. A total of 712 multi-disciplinary border officials have been trained, in addition to the 1 047 trained last year.
“This brings the number of officials that have received training from the Environmental Management Inspectorate (Green Scorpions) on the Illicit International Cross Border Movement of Endangered Species to 1 759 in a space of less than eight months,” Minister Molewa said.
She encouraged South Africans to come forward with information on rhino poaching and other wildlife crime.
“Be vigilant. Report suspicious activity in your area that you think may be related to rhino poaching. No matter how small or insignificant you may think it is, it can help us,” Minister Molewa said.