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Trial date for Fish River four still pending (South Africa)

By November 5, 2019Anti-poaching
Sue MacLennan, Grocott’s Mail | November 1, 2019

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Four of five men accused in the December 2018 poaching of a black rhino in the Great Fish River Reserve have a provisional date in the High Court in Makhanda for 1 November 2019. One of the accused, Hilario Carlos Fumo, has died.

The five men were arrested in a roadblock in Ventersburg, 150km north of Bloemfontein, on the morning of 30 December 2018. Microchips in the horns linked them to a black rhino in the Great Fish River reserve whose carcass was found there the next day.

The 1 November 2019 date is provisional, for setting the trial date, which will depend on the availability of the local man’s lawyer, advocate Peter Daubermann. Daubermann is currently defending human-trafficking-accused pastor Timothy Omotoso with two others in the Port Elizabeth High Court.

Fumo was due to appear with his four co-accused on 15 October but was admitted to hospital due to ill health on 30 September. Documents from Correctional Services in Makhanda seen by Grocott’s Mail indicate that Fumo died in Livingstone Hospital, Port Elizabeth, in the early hours of 11 October.

Fumo was among four men for whom a Tsonga translator was brought to the courtroom during their bail hearing in February. The four were remanded in custody with the fifth accused, a Makhanda parademic, granted bail of R50 000.

The three surviving accused have been represented up to this point by Advocate Charles Stamper.

Leading the Prosecution will be Senior State Advocate Buks Coetzee.

Meanwhile, six suspected rhino poachers arrested 2km outside Makhanda on 31 July 2019 have since remained in custody and the provisional date of 18 November 2019 is for setting a trial date. The September bail application of the men, who are all Zimbabwean nationals, failed.