Pangolin dealer sentenced to three years direct imprisonment and deportation thereafter

GAUTENG – A foreign national, Shepherd Mubatasango (33), was convicted and sentenced in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, 27 September 2022, for dealing in pangolin and contravening the Immigration Act.

Following a tipoff that an individual was selling a live pangolin. The Hawks’ Wildlife Trafficking team pounced on the dealer on Wednesday afternoon, 14 October 2020.

The unsuspecting Mubatasango led a police agent to a vehicle at Lyttleton shopping centre parking lot, where a pangolin was found concealed in the boot. As the negotiations were underway the team swopped and arrested Mubatasango on the spot. Exhibits were seized including the pangolin which is one of the protected species.

The Court has convicted Mubatasango for contraventions of the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act (NEMBA) as well as Immigration Act as he is illegal in the country. It has been ordered that he serve three years direct imprisonment for the main charge and three months for the other charge.

The court has further declared the convict to be an undesirable person. He is set to be deported back to Zimbabwe which is his country of origin after serving the sentence.

Meanwhile, in a different case, on Wednesday, 28 September 2022, a multidisciplinary team including the Hawks, K9 and Crime Intelligence Gathering and a privately owned Specialist Group conducted an operation where yet another pangolin was rescued.

The operation followed information that Forward Kaitano (28), a truck driver, was in possession of a live pangolin that he was selling. A ‘potential buyer’ met with him at a petrol filling station round Cullinan near Pretoria where he was immediately arrested. He was consequently charged for dealing in endangered animal which is a contravention of the NEMBA Act.

The Cullinan Magistarte’s Court has postponed the case to Wednesday, 06 October 2022, for verification of his status in the country in order to allow for a bail application.

Source: South African Police Service

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