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Environmental organisations welcome Minister’s announcement of a new regional court to help combat rhino poaching

May 3, 2017 at 1:38 pm

Minister Edna Molewa. Image: www.enca.com
Minister Edna Molewa. Image: www.enca.com

The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) welcome the Minister of Environmental Affairs’ announcement that a new regional magistrate’s court has been established in Skukuza, in the Kruger National Park.

According to a statement issued by the Minister of Environmental Affairs on 24 April 2017, the opening of the new regional court is one of several measures being taken in terms of the Integrated Strategic Management approach to combat rhino poaching.

In a joint statement, the EWT and the CER described the new court as representing an important step in the fight against rhino poaching, and other biodiversity related crimes, as it will help to ensure the expedition of a larger number of prosecutions.

“A large number of rhino poaching incidents and rhino-related offences occur in the Kruger National Park. We welcome the move to establish a new court in Skukuza – not only because it places a court in close proximity, but also because a regional court has the jurisdiction to hear more serious matters originating from a larger geographical area than an ordinary magistrate’s court. We are optimistic that the establishment of this court will increase capacity, and hopefully speed up the criminal prosecution of all rhino related offences, including the poaching of other wildlife specimens.

“The effect of faster – and hopefully more efficient and, therefore, more successful – prosecutions, and the imposition of heavy sentences, should serve as a powerful deterrent to poachers,” the organisations said.

ENDS

For queries, please contact Annette Gibbs on agibbs@cer.org.za or 082 467 1295.

Section 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996

Everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that prevent pollution and ecological degradation; promote conservation; and secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.

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