Sentencing of businessman postponed yet again
As the slaughter of South African rhinos continues, the wheels of justice keep on turning at a slow pace.
The sentencing of businessman Yahya Shoeb Jiwa of Makhado (Louis Trichardt) has yet again been placed on hold.
The 45-year-old Jiwa appeared in the Musina Regional Court last Friday. He had already pleaded guilty in July this year on charges relating to restricted activities on a special protected species without the necessary permits. Jiwa was arrested in February last year when he tried to buy rhino horns from a police agent.
Since pleading guilty, Jiwa has been awaiting his sentence. Instead, his defence team has asked for yet another postponement. They requested a pre-sentencing report to be compiled by the Department of Correctional Services to support a petition to ask the court for correctional supervision of Jiwa rather than a jail sentence.
During Friday’s court appearance, Jiwa’s lawyer fervently denied allegations that he was delaying his clients sentencing. The lawyer further informed the court that he was only in possession of Jiwa’s probation officer’s report and that the report from Correctional Services would only be completed by the end of November.
The court granted a final postponement and warned Jiwa that his sentencing would continue with or without the report. He will have to appear in the Musina court again on 9 January.
In another, unrelated case, Dawie Groenewald and his nine co-accused were also back in the Pretoria High Court on Friday, in connection with the State’s seizure of their assets to the value of R55 million. The seizure was an interim order that was granted by the High Court in May this year. All 10 are charged with, among others, offences relating to the illegal trade in rhino horn.
During Friday’s court proceedings, the State brought an application to have the seizure order made permanent. At the same time, the State’s curator also asked that the assets, including the rhinos and game on Groenewald’s farm, be sold. The curator said he did not know how to farm and that he was afraid for the animals’ well-being.
The team’s defence lawyer, Mr Hennie Erwee of Musina, argued in court that the seizure order was granted without the court's being in possession of all the facts of the case. Judge Bill Prinsloo reached the same conclusion and lifted the interim attachment order, placing the rhinos in the care of John Hume. Hume is a business associate of Groenewald. Judge Prinsloo also ordered the State to foot Groenewald and his co-accused’s legal bill.
Still on the subject of rhinos, the trial of the five men accused of illegally hunting rhinos in the Alldays area is set to begin early next year.
The five, January Machava (37), Juda Nyembe (38), Matthew Pedro Ngwenya (42), Thomas Sibanda (33) and Humbulani Reason Matutu (29), appeared in the Louis Trichardt Regional Court on Monday. They are charged with three counts of the hunting of specially protected wild animals and two counts of picking up or removing dead wild animals. The charges were brought against them when they allegedly killed two rhinos and attempted to kill a third and hack off the horns.
On Monday, the State withdrew its case against Matutu after he had decided to become a state witness. The case against the remaining four was postponed until 11 and 12 February of next year. Machava, Nyembe and Ngwenya are out on bail, while Sibanda remains in custody.
There were also some new developments in 39-year-old Jacques Els’s case. Els, who was found guilty on charges relating to the illegal hunting, trafficking and possession of rhino horns without the necessary permits, has already served four months of his eight-year jail sentence. He might be released on bail soon, however, after his petition for leave to appeal against his sentence was granted by the High Court. A date for his bail application has yet to be set by the Louis Trichardt Regional Court.