R1m fine for Limpopo businessman after rhino horn bust

09 May 2018 - 11:11 By Timeslive
Tony Freitas was sentenced by the Lephalale Regional Court to a R1 million fine or ten years imprisonment on several charges. File photo.
Tony Freitas was sentenced by the Lephalale Regional Court to a R1 million fine or ten years imprisonment on several charges. File photo.
Image: 123RF/Jacoba Susanna Maria Swanepoel

Wealthy Lephalale businessman Tony Freitas has been served a fine of R1 million in a case involving rhino poaching. Police are still on the case as they follow the trail of where the horns were being taken.

Freitas was arrested in January 2017 for involvement in what was called a "rhino slaughterhouse".

TimesLIVE reported at the time that officers of the Limpopo Stock Theft and Endangered Species Unit found rhino feet and meat in a cold-room. Rhino tails and two skins were in the salt-room.

On Wednesday‚ the provincial commissioner of the South African Police Service in Limpopo‚ Lieutenant General Nneke Ledwaba‚ said he was elated by the sentence.

Freitas‚ aged 57‚ was on Monday sentenced by the Lephalale Regional Court to a R1 million fine or ten years imprisonment on charges of: hunting of specially protected animals without permits‚ possession/donation of rhino parts without permits and selling of rhino meat without permits.

"The meticulous detective work that was carried out by members of this unit ensured that the accused ended up pleading guilty to the charges‚" said Ledwaba.

"Prior to the apprehension of the said game farmer‚ the investigating team was led to the scene at his farm in a well-coordinated operation. On arrival the following were recovered:

- eight (8) rhino feet in a cold room.

- seven (7) carcasses in a cold room.

- one (1) decomposed rhino carcass.

- two (2) rhino hides (skins) and some bones dug from the ground at the same farm.

- two (2) rhino heads in a cold room.

The Provincial Commissioner urged the investigators "to leave no stone unturned until all those who received the rhino horns are also arrested".

The police are still following up on the information that a red helicopter was seen in the vicinity‚ which raised the suspicion that the rhino horns might have been taken to other destinations.

Anyone with information is requested to contact Warrant Officer Johannes Jurgengs van Heerden at 0828144300.

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