Rhino horn. (File: AFP)

Pretoria – The High Court in Pretoria granted an order to seize the assets of suspected rhino poaching ring leader, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said on Monday.
Spokesperson Medupe Simasiku said the preservation of property order was granted in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act. It pertained to R5m belonging to Joseph Nyalunga.

“The application was launched by the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) of the National Prosecuting Authority,” he said.
He said that during an investigation into the organised poaching of rhinos in the Kruger National Park, Nyalunga, who was a former police official, was identified as the alleged ring-leader of a syndicate.

He was arrested during an undercover operation on 2 March.
After his arrest the police escorted him to his residence at Mkhuhlu Township. “The police searched his residence and seized various items, including R5 069 800 which was found in a metal coffer in the garage.”

He said the preservation of property order was granted on the basis that the money represented the proceeds of unlawful activities, or was used to commit offences.
Simasiku said the high court order followed a similar court order obtained by the AFU on 16 November, regarding an amount of R3.2m, a Land Rover motor vehicle, and a Toyota Fortuner motor vehicle seized from Nyalunga.

“At the time of his arrest Nyalunga was unemployed. He had no legitimate income that could explain the huge amount of cash that the police found in his possession,” he said.
Simasiku said Nyalunga was in custody and was expected to appear in the Middelburg Regional Court on 4 April.

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