Mahikeng – Police have made a second arrest, in less than a week, of alleged illicit animal traders trying to sell endangered pangolins in the North West.
Pangolin species are protected under national and international laws, and two are listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Just days after the first arrests, four more suspects aged between 43 and 59 were arrested in Vryburg on Friday, (2 June 2023), after being found in possession of a pangolin.
The suspects were headed to Mahikeng to allegedly meet a buyer for a pangolin that they were selling for R60 000 when they were arrested.
They were stopped along Vryburg Road by members of the Hawks’ Serious Organised Crime Investigation and the South African Police Service Tactical Response Team.
“In the boot of the vehicle, the team found a bag containing a Pangolin. The vehicle was seized for further investigation and the pangolin was handed over to members of Nature Conservation,” the police said.
The suspects will appear before Mmabatho Magistrate’s Court on Monday, (5 June 2023), for contravention of the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act 10 of 2004.
Earlier in the week, on Tuesday, (30 May 2023), 28-year-old Teboho Kodwa, 33-year-old Deon Mubhada, 36-year-old Kabelo Batsi, and 45-year-old Lesego Siana were arrested in possession of two pangolins in Mahikeng.
Allegations are that the group had intended to sell two pangolins for R200 000.
All four suspects were arrested by members of the Hawks’ Serious Organised Crime Investigation at Mahikeng Mall, where they were found in possession of the pangolins.
Mubhada was thought to be a Zimbabwean, and Lesego Siana was believed to be a Botswana national.
Their first court appearance was adjourned to allow authorities to verify the immigration status of the pair.
The suspects, who were remanded in custody, will next appear in court on Tuesday, (6 June 2023).