The lions were been killed during the course of the previous night, according to Tshwane metro spokesperson Lindela Mashigo.
“The lions were last spotted roaming in the reserve the night before,” Mashigo said.
“We can confirm they were found dead in the reserve earlier today.”
Mashigo said one of the lions belonged to the reserve while the other three belonged to the Pretoria Zoo.
“The case is being reported to the Lyttleton police station and the matter will be investigated by them.”
Councillor Dana Wannenburg, the MMC for Environment and Agriculture Management, said in a statement: “Today is a sad day for Tshwane as we report that four lions were killed in the Rietvlei Nature Reserve last night.
“Early this morning conservation officials found the butchered carcasses in the lion enclosure. The jaws and paws of all four lions were removed.
“SAPS were notified and stock theft units were immediately dispatched. While the investigation is in its early stages, it appears that the lions were poisoned and that the body parts were removed for ‘muti’ purposes,” said Wannenburg.
“To aid the investigation the carcasses were removed to Onderstepoort for detailed analysis.
“This brutal act will not go unpunished, and Tshwane Conservation officials, SAPS and national and provincial departments will work round the click to identify and apprehend the perpetrators.
“Rietvlei’s lions were the pride of Tshwane and a major tourist attraction, and their loss will be felt for many years to come.”