Wednesday, May 18, 2011

SA cops torture conservationist as poachers butcher his rhino and calf

Pretoria High Court judge Hans Fabricius had to personally phone the Naboomspruit cops – demanding to know why his urgent court order to release MediCross founder and wildlife conservationist Dr Walter Ward was not carried out.

Ward was arrested with his foreman Saki Kekana on Friday-night on his private rhino-protectorate, the farm Lweni 5km outside Naboomspruit. Police arrived with claims they had a ‘tipoff ‘ that he had “unlicensed weapons’ in his safe.

However Dr Ward told Beeld that all his weapons were legally registered and that he had sent all the documentary proof to the police well before his arrest – but never got a response from them. The Naboomspruit cops claimed when they arrived enmasse at Lweni, that they had a ‘search-order’ to open his safe, but refused to show it to the businessman.

They arrested the businessman with Kekana and dumped them in a cell of seven trial-awaiting prisoners who then proceeded to beat up Dr Ward and rob him.

This was a two-pronged police operation: while Ward was being beaten up in a police-cell, the police’s anti-poaching unit also were still investigating the past week’s discovery that one of his valuable rhino-cows was murdered, her horn cut off – and the toes of her small calf also removed. This is the 140th rhino killed in South Africa over the past four months.

Dr Ward said that he had paid R75,000 for the rhino last year – and had her horn removed precisely to protect the endangered creatures against the aggressive, highly-sophisticated poacher gangs which are decimating South Africa’s endangered rhinos, hunting them down with helicopters.

South Africa is losing the war against the rhino-poachers

Over the past four months alone, a total of 140 rhinos were shot dead for their horns in South Africa ; more than one day. Last year some 300 rhinos were killed in SA, in 2009 there were 84 killed; and In 2007, a total of 13 rhinos were shot dead for their horns.

After judge Fabricius issued the emergency court order for his immediate release from police custody, however, the Naboomspruit police adamantly refused to release Ward from the police-cells, with a local low-level cop obtusely refusing to honour the High Court order – claiming he ‘needed his commander’s permission’ first.

Brig. Hangweni Mulaudzi of the Limpopo SA Police Force claimed that they confiscated nine ‘illegal’ hunting rifles, a pistol and 1,944 rounds of ammo from his safe: and Sapa writes that Ward again appeared on May 3 at 7:42am in the Naboomspruit/Mokgophong court.

Thus far in 2011, a total of 140 rhinos were already shot dead for their horns in South Africa. that’s more than one rhino biting the dust each day. That’s even more than last year, when some 300 rhinos were killed in South Africa.

Source: (Netherlands Aid)

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