Rhino horn accused 'protected by bribery'
Introduction by Jamie Joseph | Saving the Wild
Gwala arrogantly rants to police officers that he will never stop killing rhinos. It is up to every one of us to make him stop.
Unlike the Sunday Times, who need to walk the legal tightrope, I have no hesitation to name both the magistrate and defense attorney that are “allegedly” working together to ensure Gwala never sees the inside of a jail cell.
According to an affidavit presented to the Sunday Times, the current magistrate on Gwala’s case, Mr Shandu, accepted a cash bribe to take it easy on Gwala. According to this reliable source that has had relations with Gwala’s current defense attorney, Miss Mpume Linda, she was complicit in this illegal transaction.
In January 2016, I accused the original magistrate and original defense attorney of being corrupt. The case was moved to Ngwelezane courthouse, and a new magistrate and defense attorney was assigned, with no repercussion to my allegations.
This is a message to my enemies:
If you pursue me in any way, let it to be known that I will respond with a war chest of evidence, and expose more names on my ‘blood rhino blacklist’. All I want is for Gwala’s trial to be moved to the High Court, I want justice for rhinos. But if you try to corner me, I will not back down.
MATTHEW SAVIDES | 23 JULY 2017
Accusations of corruption and deliberate delays in the trial against alleged KwaZulu-Natal rhino poaching kingpin Dumisani Gwala have led to calls for the case to be moved to the high court.
Gwala – whose network was alleged to have been responsible for about 80% of all poached horn in the province – and co-accused Wiseman Makeba and Aubrey Dlamini are facing a total of 10 charges, most related to the illegal purchase and possession of rhino horn, and of resisting arrest.
They were arrested on December 18 2014. Gwala and Makeba are out on bail and Dlamini is in custody.
They are being tried in the Ngwelezane Magistrate’s Court near Empangeni and are due back there on August 4.
They first appeared in court in January 2015, but the trial itself is yet to begin. Since being moved to Ngwelezane nearly a year after the first hearing, it has been postponed at least 14 times.
Photo credit: Jamie Joseph | Saving the Wild | Rhino poaching is out of control in Zululand
An affidavit has now emerged claiming that the case is being deliberately postponed so Gwala can get off on a technicality, or face a lighter sentence.
The signed document, seen by the Sunday Times this week, forms part of a broader investigation into alleged corruption within Zululand courts. It claims that bribes have been paid to ensure that the case is dragged out. The author’s identity cannot be revealed as this would put their life at risk.
The Sunday Times understands that the National Prosecuting Authority has been given a copy of the affidavit.
Although the Magistrates Commission officially denied being in possession of it, a senior investigator confirmed that he had seen the affidavit and “processes are being followed”.
Activist Jamie Joseph, who has set her sights on ensuring Gwala is brought to book and has exposed alleged corruption in Zululand courts on her website Saving the Wild, tore into Gwala in the wake of the affidavit.
She said: “If this case does not urgently get transferred to the high court, and far away from Zululand, justice will not prevail. Gwala simply has far too much judicial and political protection in Zululand.”
Photo credit: Jamie Joseph | Saving the Wild | Zululand rhino orphan survivor
The IFP and DA backed Joseph’s call for the case to be moved.
“The legal maxim ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ is very appropriate in this instance. The high number of postponements are unusual, and in such a high profile case. With so much at stake, these should definitely be further investigated by the Department of Justice,” said the IFP’s Advocate Anthony Mitchell.
DA KZN environmental affairs spokeswoman Ann McDonnell said that the poaching crisis in KZN meant that special courts needed to be set up.
“It’s that big of a crisis. The special courts do an amazing job. That would be first prize…but I would really punt for this case, in particular, to be moved to the high court,” she said.
The director of public prosecutions in KwaZulu-Natal, Moipone Noko, declined to comment in detail, but said the postponements in the case had been sought by both defence and prosecution.
Saving the Wild Exclusives…
Minister Molewa’s response to alleged rhino poaching kingpin – 23 November 2016
Zulus pack out alleged rhino poaching kingpin trial – 19 September 2016
Corruption in courts fuelling rhino poaching – 22 June 2016
Rhino kingpin trial set for showdown – 27 May 2016
Activist journalism can save the wild – 4 May 2016
Thuli Madonsela to investigate corruption enabling poaching – 10 April 2016
Rural communities are saving rhinos– 6 April 2016
Alleged rhino poaching kingpin and the magistrate that keeps him out of jail – 28 January 2016