Thembi Juliegirl Mangane has been sentenced for rhino poaching after two of her accomplices, who have pleaded guilty, were sentenced in 2021. Thirty-seven-year-old Mangane on the other hand opted for a trial instead, which she lost on March 17th. The Skukuza Regional Court sentenced Mangane to a total of 16 years behind bars.
“We hope that the sentence will serve as a deterrence to others who might consider emulating the actions of the accused,” the Acting Provincial Commissioner of the South African Police Service (SAPS) in Mpumalanga, Major General Zeph Mkhwanazi, said in a statement.
The sentence emanates from a rhino poaching incident which took place on April 18, 2019. Mangane was among several rhino poachers who entered Kruger National Park through the Crocodile Bridge Section where they killed a rhino and removed its horns.
Police discovered that Mangane was part of the orchestrated plan to collect and transport the suspects as they came out of Kruger National Park once they were finished with their crime. Mangane was reportedly the driver and the car that was used by the poachers was identified and eventually stopped.
A search was conducted and a rifle, as well as the two rhino horns, a saw, and other items were found inside the vehicle that she was driving. The three suspects were arrested in relation to this incident, as well as charged accordingly. They then appeared in court where two men, identified as Matsinye Joao Sithole and Vasco Tibane, pleaded guilty. They were then sentenced on June 24, 2021, to 22 years in prison.
Due to the fact that Mangane did not plead guilty, her matter was postponed, but after a trial last month, she was sentenced as follows:
On count one: Restricted activity involving a threatened or protected species – white rhinoceros, the accused was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.
On count two: Possession of prohibited firearm, the accused was sentenced to six years imprisonment.
For count three: Possession of unlicensed ammunition, the accused was sentenced to two years imprisonment.
Meanwhile, on count four: Possession of dangerous weapon, the accused was sentenced to one year imprisonment.
On count five: Conspiracy to commit a crime, the accused was sentenced to four years imprisonment.