Top anti-poaching cop fights to save his career
A police officer with dozens of anti-poaching arrests to his name will be fighting to save his career on Monday.
Warrant officer JP van Zyl-Roux is facing an internal disciplinary hearing this week for allegedly failing to hand over a docket to anti-corruption investigators‚ having private firearms at work and bringing the force into disrepute.
Van Zyl-Roux confirmed to TimesLIVE that the hearing was set down from Monday.
His lawyer‚ Jacques Botha‚ alleged that the policeman‚ with nearly three decades experience and dozens of poaching arrests to his name‚ was being targeted because one of the cases he dealt with involved a poacher with close links to senior politicians.
He said it was "blatantly obvious" that someone was trying to get rid of his client.
"It's so thinly disguised‚" he said. "By the end of the week I have no doubt my client will be fired. That's the intention [from SAPS]."
However‚ should that happen‚ Botha indicated he would go straight to the bargaining council‚ where he was confident the dismissal would be overturned.
The 47-year-old has support from environmental activists‚ including Saving the Wild and the Elephant Action League‚ which have proposed to help with fundraising if there is a legal challenge.
Activist Jamie Joseph of Saving the Wild said: "I have waited far too long to finally have the opportunity to rise up and stand beside the most passionate‚ humble and courageous hero I have ever had the privilege of knowing.
"To save the rhinos of Zululand we need to save Detective JP van Zyl-Roux. He is being persecuted for pursuing rhino poachers with political protection‚ and now over the next two weeks the South African Police Service will try to quietly fire him in a departmental hearing on trivial charges."
She said that Van Zyl-Roux was someone who "time and again went way beyond the call of duty to save our iconic species".
"He is an incredibly dedicated and courageous police officer that is incorruptible‚ and he is outstanding at his job.
"Saving the Wild and Elephant Action League ... have a significant rhino crisis fund in excess of R2-million and it is expected to grow rapidly in the fight to expose and eradicate corruption enabling poaching. In this war on poaching‚ it's not just about saving rhinos‚ we need to stand by the unsung heroes that have gone beyond the call of duty to protect our iconic species. If JP van Zyl-Roux is fired‚ our legal and investigative team will support him‚ and we will be relentless in our pursuit for justice‚" she said.
Attempts to get comment from Hawks spokesman Hangwani Mulaudzi were unsuccessful early on Monday.