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Rangers shoot 4 poachers, 1 dead

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image A poacher carries a dead animal after he was arrested in this undated file picture. This does not necessarily mean he is one of the poachers mentioned in this story.

MPAKA – Game rangers at Mkhaya Nature Reserve yesterday shot four armed poachers and one died after a shootout.

Two of the poachers are said to be admitted at the Siteki Good Shepherd Hospital while one was treated and discharged.
The deceased was part of seven poachers had trespassed into Mkhaya Nature Reserve.

Visitors who occupied one of the campsites heard gunshots before dawn. The campers are said to have alerted game rangers of the suspected intruders and the sound of gunfire they had heard.
Acting on the tip off, the rangers went to investigate and the suspicions were confirmed when they met seven poachers inside the game reserve.
It has been alleged that the poachers opened fire when they were ordered by the game rangers to stop.

 “They tried to tell the poachers to surrender but the instruction fell on deaf ears as the poachers fired at the rangers and then there was a shootout in which the poachers were injured,” said a source close to the matter.

Sources said the four poachers were shot as they fled the game reserve leaving behind game they had killed.
Parked nearby was a vehicle, so far only identified as a Toyota bakkie, which they used as a getaway vehicle. One of the poachers who was shot was carried to the van as they escaped.

However, they discovered after they had escaped that their own had died.
Sources close to the matter alleged the poachers thereafter made up a story that the dead man had been shot along the Big Bend - Siteki road.
They allegedly told Mpaka police that unknown men had opened fire on their vehicle injuring three and killing one of its occupants.
 However, Siteki police had received a call from the Mkhaya Nature Reserve rangers to help them apprehend poaching suspects that had fled in a Toyota van.

Information is said to have been filtered and it was discovered that the men at Mpaka had been shot at by the rangers.
They are said to have later confessed that they were indeed shot at by the Mkhaya rangers.
When asked about the game they had allegedly stolen at the nature reserve they said they dumped everything during the shootout fearing that they would be caught with game.

The injured suspects were taken to hospital, two were admitted while one was treated and discharged.
Yesterday, one of the suspect poachers was seen entering the Mpaka Police Post as statements were being recorded.
The police were still putting together the puzzle of this pieces together as they strongly believed game was killed during the poaching by the seven men.

Police Public Relations Officer Superintendent Wendy Hleta confirmed the shootout between Mkhaya Rangers and poachers.
She said four poachers were shot and one died. Hleta said Big Bend police were investigating the matter. 

There have been recent incidents of poaching that were reported at Mkhaya Game Reserve and the nearby Hlane National Park. In one of the incidents to be reported in Hlane was the poaching of a rhino which was poached by South African poachers, who were later said to have been part of an established poaching syndicate.


Shot, handcuffed suspect flees


LUKHULA – A suspect who is at large escaped with police handcuffs.

The daring suspect, Sicelo Mhlanga, who was shot on the neck and leg by police, yesterday discharged himself from Good Shepherd Hospital where he was receiving medical attention.

The police have since asked the suspect to surrender himself so he could receive proper medical attention.
Mhlanga was shot at by the police during an arrest at Lukhula as he attempted to flee.

The suspect was found enjoying drinks in the company of his friends, allegedly planning to rob a nearby business. Mhlanga was wanted for a string of house-breaking cases around Siteki.

The police, acting on a tip off that three suspects were about to rob a local business, quickly arrived at the scene and told the three men that they had to be questioned.
Mhlanga took to his heels, failing to respond to police orders to stop and he was subsequently shot on the neck and leg.

The incident happened on Sunday at around 4pm. A pistol and knife were found in Mhlanga’s possession.
Police Public Relations Officer Superintendent Wendy Hleta said all three suspects fled the scene and the police managed to apprehend one.  
“When he had been shot he tried to run but fell along the road leading to the scrapyard and he was rushed to the hospital as he was bleeding profusely,” the source said.

The men were reported to have been carrying tools used mostly by housebreaking criminals.
Hleta said Mhlanga was wanted for a string of armed robbery and housebreaking and theft cases. She said the police have opened an inquiry in the matter.
She further said the suspect, after being admitted at the Good Shepherd Hospital, disappeared with police handcuffs which were fastened on the hospital bed.

She said; “I would like to urge the suspect to surrender himself to the police so that he can get the necessary treatment and if he does not know anything on the alleged cases the court will clear him.”

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