Three Zimbabwean nationals will have to spend the next couple of months behind bars awaiting their next court appearance in the Louis Trichardt Magistrate’s Court.
The three, Keswane Simango (28), Florence Baloyi (35) and Phillemon Baloyi, appeared in the Louis Trichardt Magistrate’s Court on Monday on a charge of being involved in a restricted activity regarding a threatened or protected species without a permit. To make matter worse for them, they are also being charged under the Immigration Act for being in South Africa illegally.
Keswane and Florence were arrested by police on Friday, 15 March, along the R524 road between Louis Trichardt and Thohoyandou at the Piesanghoek turn-off. Their arrest follows a tip-off from the public that they were in possession of two elephant tusks.
“A special intelligence-driven joint operation composed of the Makhado Cluster Task Team, the detectives, the Crime Intelligence Unit and the Stock Theft Unit was activated and conducted in the area, which led to the arrest of two female suspects found in possession of elephant tusks.
The tusks were concealed in a black sports bag,” said provincial police spokesperson Col Moatshe Ngoepe. Following further police investigation, Phillemon was arrested later on Friday.
During the three accused’s court appearance, their case was postponed until 20 June this year. They were remanded in custody to afford the court opportunity to determine the authenticity of the tusks (meaning that they are not fake) and also for the police to determine whether the three are indeed in South Africa illegally as they could produce no documentation.