Witness safety came under the spotlight at the bail hearing of two alleged Mpumalanga rhino poaching kingpins and five police officers. The bail hearing has been postponed again to 25 October.
The seven were arrested by the Hawks last month. They face charges of dealing in rhino horns. All but one of the suspects has been remanded in custody.
They were believed to be part of a big syndicate dealing in poached rhino horns.
The investigation officer was back on the stand, grilled for hours by three lawyers.
Lawyers maintained that one of the alleged kingpins; Joseph Nyalungu has previous cases against him, dating back to 2014. He complied with bail conditions and never missed a court appearance.
Nyalungu’s lawyers stated that he is not a danger to society but the state said witnesses had been intimidated and threatened.
The state is opposing bail stating that the investigation team, prosecution team, agents and witnesses and Kruger National Park have been threatened. One witness has been placed on witness protection and the Kruger Park was attacked last week where a bomb was found.
Both Petrus Mabuza and Joseph Nyalungu, through their lawyers, told the court that there was a plan to poison them. They are pointing a finger at police and Kruger National Park officials.
The defence believes the two are being targeted and is accusing the state of being prejudiced.
All the police officers appearing with the suspected kingpins have been suspended from work. The hearing continues on Thursday.