Home News Plant poacher sentenced to eight years behind bars

Plant poacher sentenced to eight years behind bars

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The Garies Regional Court sentenced a 41-year-old man, to eight years direct imprisonment, after he had initially been acquitted, for being in possession of 812 protected plants with an estimated street value of over R649,000.

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THE GARIES Regional Court sentenced Shannon Miggel, 41, to eight years direct imprisonment, after he had initially been acquitted, for being in possession of 812 protected plants with an estimated street value of over R649,000.

Miggel was charged with contravening Section 50 of the Northern Cape Nature Conservation Act 9 of 2009 (NCNCA 9 of 2009).

National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesperson Mojalefa Senokoatsane said the police arrested Miggel during a stop-and-search operation in Garies on December 31, 2019.

“The accused (Miggel) had earlier sped away from the police. The police found a plastic bag between the legs of the accused, containing 812 protected plant heads, identified as Conophytum globosum belonging to the Aizoacea family,” said Senokoatsane.

He added that despite Miggel pleading guilty on November 22, 2021, the magistrate ruled on April 4, 2022, that the plants were not included as a protected plant under the NCNCA 9 of 2009.

“The accused was acquitted on May 30, 2022.”

Senokoatsane stated that the regional court prosecutor, Basil Kock, requested the Directorate of Public Prosecutions in the Northern Cape to intervene as he was not satisfied with the decision.

“Steps were immediately taken to take the matter on appeal. In the meantime, all the matters involving Conophytum plants were temporarily withdrawn, in the event that other accused would also be acquitted.”

He added that the appeal was successful in the Northern Cape High Court, where the magistrate was instructed to reopen the trial.

Senokoatsane stated that during pre-sentencing proceedings, the State called Captain Karel du Toit to argue in aggravation of sentence.

“Du Toit provided alarming statistics over the increase in poaching of these plants, mainly for the overseas market.

“He highlighted the difficulty experienced in catching these poachers, who operated sophisticated syndicates by enlisting impoverished locals to harvest the plants.

“He submitted that poachers showed no regard for nature as they were fuelled by greed.”

Senokoatsane added that Adam Harrower, a senior botanical horticulturist and zoologist employed at the Kirstenbosch national botanical gardens, testified that these plants were indigenous to the Garies region in Namaqualand.

“He stated that these plants were harvested in large quantities by poachers who destroyed the environment beyond rehabilitation in the process. He explained that these plants could become extinct as they were not found anywhere else in the world.”

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