Breaking! Alleged Rhino Poaching Kingpin, Petros Sydney Mabuza, Arrested By Police In South Africa
Photo of alleged rhino poaching Kingpin, Petrus “Mr. Big” Mabuza, from Independent Online.
Alleged rhino poaching kingpin, 54-year-old Petros Sydney Mabuza, known in law enforcement and poaching gang circles as “Mr. Big” and his 21-year-old wife Nozwelo Mahumane were arrested on Tuesday of last week in Mpumalanga, South Africa.
As per an official statement from the South African Police Service, the two were charged with violations of the Firearm Control Act, conspiracy to commit a crime and various infringements of the Credit Act.
The arrests followed a joint police operation by the Hawks, Counter Intelligence, the Special Task Force, the SAPS Forensic Science Laboratory, and SANParks The team raided several locations in Mbombela where they managed to seize a firearm barrel, hunting rifle, high caliber firearm rounds, a silencer, an undisclosed number of identity documents, bank cards and SASSA cards.
Mabuza and Mahumane, who appeared at the Hazyview Magistrate Court on Thursday, are also accused of trafficking rhino horns in Acornhoek, Mpumalanga.
Mabuza was remanded in custody while Mahumane was granted bail with strict conditions. Both suspects are scheduled to appear on June 20th for a formal bail application.
“The battle for justice begins now. An astute businessman like Petros Mabuza does not yield such power without help from allies in high places,” Jamie Joseph, Director of Saving the Wild, which has been gathering intelligence on Mr. Big’s alleged syndicate for several months, said in a statement. “Saving the Wild will be monitoring the proceedings, as we have done in the case of the alleged rhino poaching kingpin of Zululand, Dumisani Gwala, with that trial expected to finally start in the coming weeks after a slew of more than 20 delays.”
According to the organization, Mabuza, who now owns numerous properties and businesses in the province of Mpumalanga, started out as a common poacher before becoming one of the three major rhino poaching kingpins in South Africa.
According to Saving the Wild sources, Mabuza used to send his rhino poaching gangs predominantly to the Kruger National Park, but since 2017 he has been expanding operations into Zululand, especially the flagship Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve.
The organization claims that Mabuza reportedly rents out vehicles and rifles to prospective poachers wanting to hunt rhino.
“He sends his own teams with those poachers to ensure his investment,” explained the organization. “The poachers then sell the horns to Mr. Big when they return the vehicles and firearms. He then supplies the horns to Chinese buyers in his network.”
In October 2017, Jamie Joseph published the ‘Blood Rhino Blacklist’ expose, an alleged Zululand syndicate of magistrates and prosecutors who had for years, allegedly taken bribes on rhino poaching cases.
In April 2018, Deputy Minister of Justice, John Jeffery, confirmed an investigation into Regional Court President of the KwaZulu Natal province, Mr. Eric Nzimande, and magistrates under his command whom Saving the Wild had investigated and accused of defeating the ends of justice.
For safety reasons, “the Hawks reserve the right to divulge more information on the operation pending the conclusion of the probe.”