Locals charged with terrorism in Swaziland
MBOMBELA – Three Lowvelders who were charged with poaching and terrorism in Swaziland last month will apply for bail in the country’s High Court tomorrow.
In Swaziland, the Suppression of Terrorism Act acknowledges poaching as an act of terrorism.
Sources confirmed that the accused are two Swaziland citizens, Muzi Dlamini and Sipho Mhlanga, Lowvelders, Isaac Mkhabela and Stanley Khlakalufu (a police reservist) and a third man whose identity remains unknown because his only form of identification was fake.
A Mozambican accomplice was killed during their arrest on August 11 near the Hlane Royal National Park.
A spokesman of Big Game Parks’s (BGP) elite anti-poaching unit refrained from providing details on the arrest.
“Considering the fact that the bail hearing must still happen, the sensitivity of the case prevents me from doing so,” he said.
He was willing to confirm the charges against them. “Fourteen charges have been levelled against them including attempted rhino poaching, corruption, attempted money laundering, attempted murder and the illegal possession of arms and ammunition and terrorism,” said the source. They indicated that they would plead not guilty.
A spokesman of BGP elite anti-poaching unit told Lowvelder that the Crown, as the state is referred to in Swazi courts, would oppose bail.
This was the country’s anti-poaching unit’s second interception of poachers from the Lowveld within its borders in the past three months.
In June three presumed Lowvelders were killed while attempting to execute a poaching operation in the park. This was the result of a joint operation between BGP’s anti-poaching unit and the Lebombo police’s Serious Crime Unit.
At the time, a BGP representative said that the eye of the poaching storm was located in the Kruger National Park. “We will prevent the poaching surge here at all costs,” he told Lowvelder.
“We don’t want poachers here,” he concluded.