Pressure on NPA to move poaching kingpin’s case to High Court

Alleged poaching 'kingpin' Dumisani Gwala confronts a TimesLive photographer after appearing in the Ngwelezana Magistrate's Court on Friday. With him is co-accused Aubrey Dlamini. PHOTO: Thuli Dlamini/ Tiso Blackster

THE National Prosecuting Authority must decide if the case involving alleged poaching ‘kingpin’ and rhino horn trader, Dumisani Gwala, will be moved from the Ngwelezana Magistrate’s Court to another court.

The case itself has resembled a game of Blackjack in which the dealer has shuffled the deck some 15 times.

The case has been dragging on for two years and was last Friday postponed for the 15th time.

Allegations of corruption and intentional delays in Gwala’s case were recently brought to the fore by the Sunday Times.

On Friday the case was remanded to 31 August in order for co-accused Wiseman Makeba and Aubrey Dlamini to obtain new legal representation – something that State Prosecutor Yuri Gangai said seems to be a trend.

It was reported that Gangai said that the case has a history of attorneys being replaced or withdrawn when a trial date is to be set.

Besides the case being delayed once more, a Sunday Times photographer was degraded when Gwala called her a number of vile names before spitting on her after she took his photograph.

Thuli Dlamini took to Facebook shortly after the incident in which she expressed her disgust.‘He spewed his spit in my face! In my career this was the most traumatic, repulsive, shocking and degrading experience ever,’ she wrote.

News Editor at the KZN Bureau for the Tiso Blackstar Group, Matthew Savides, who was also reporting on the day, confirmed the incident.

‘Gwala was not provoked in anyway. Permission was sought from the Court Manager to take photos outside the courtroom, which is all Thuli did.

‘To have a photographer threatened and spat on is unacceptable,’ he told the ZO.

ALSO READ: Suspected rhino poaching kingpin back in court

DA lashes out

In an email sent to the ZO on Saturday, the Democratic Alliance in the province joined the call made by various conservationists and urged the NPA to escalate the case to the High Court.

‘There can be no place for such individuals in our society and it is extremely concerning that suspects are manipulating the system to the extent that justice is not being served.

‘Lack of prosecution merely serves as encouragement to those involved in the slaughter of our iconic animals.

‘The DA challenges the NPA to escalate multi-million dollar poaching syndicate cases to higher courts so that justice can be served.

‘The survival of our animal species depends on it,’ wrote DA KZN spokesperson on conservation, Ann McDonnell.

McDonnell further noted that two DA members were also threatened by Gwala before he ‘bragged that he had bought his car from proceeds of the sale of horn’.

Following the ongoing reports on the case by various media houses, a group called Global March For Elephants and Rhinos started a petition on change.org to request the NPA to move the case to the

‘High Court of South Africa and out of the KwaZulu-Natal jurisdiction’.
But while the decision of whether Gwala’s case will continue at the Ngwelezana Magistrate’s Court lies solely with the NPA, a source close to the ZO revealed that the case will most likely continue at regional court level as it ‘fits the criteria for regional court matters’.

Gwala, Dlamini and Makeba face a combined 10 charges relating to the illegal purchase and possession of rhino horn‚ and of resisting arrest.

They were arrested in December, 2015 after a sting operation in which rhino horn was bought.

At the time of their arrests, Gwala was believed to have been involved in about 80% of the illegal rhino horn trade in KZN.

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  AUTHOR
Orrin Singh

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