Home News Two men sentenced to seven years for possession of endangered plants

Two men sentenced to seven years for possession of endangered plants

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An expert in endangered plants, Pieter Christiaan Voges van Wyk, indicated during his testimony that these plants are destined for the international market, as they are seen as ’status’ symbols by the rich.

File picture

TWO MEN men were sentenced to seven years imprisonment after they were found in the possession of 12 endangered plants – “pachypodium namaquanum”, also known as the “halfmens”.

NPA regional spokesperson, Mojalefa Senokoatsane, on Friday said the accused Josef Andreas Obies and Frederick Paulus Cloete were stopped by members of the police as they were travelling in a bakkie in the direction of Port Nolloth on August 23, 2020.

“The police discovered 12 endangered species where the accused admitted having taken the plants from the Richtersveld National Park, without having permits to have these endangered species in their possession.”

“The accused pleaded guilty, on a count of contravening the provisions of section 50 of the Northern Cape Nature Conservation Act 9 of 2009. They were in the unlawful possession of the endangered plant species.”

He added that Captain Karel du Toit testified that there was a high prevalence of these types of offences in the Northern Cape and detailed how these poachers usually operated in sophisticated syndicates.

“An expert in endangered plants, Pieter Christiaan Voges van Wyk, informed the court about the impact these offences are causing not only to the Richtersveld National Park and surrounding areas, but also to the tourism industry and South Africa as a whole.

“He indicated during his testimony that these plants are destined for the international market, as they are seen as ‘status’ symbols by the rich. In addition, he testified how they managed to track down the place where the plants were removed in the park and explained the extent of damage caused by removing them.”

The Director of Public Prosecutions in the Northern Cape Division, Mzukisi Sakata, stated that the sentence was the harshest that was handed down in the Northern Cape and possibly the country.

“The sentence will surely be an effective deterrent to other would-be offenders. As the poaching of endangered species in Namaqualand is increasing at an alarming rate, the NPA and the SAPS are joining hands to bring offenders to book.”

He commended the investigating officer and the prosecution for ensuring that the culprits were brought to book.

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