Three men are due to appear in court for arson and other crimes relating to the damaged lodge

Three suspects aged between 28 and 37 are due to appear before the Kanyamazane Magistrate’s Court tomorrow, Tuesday 09 February 2021, for arson, possession of stolen goods and other crimes. Their appearance stems from an incident that occurred on 31 January 2021, where the Bongani Mountain Game Lodge, situated at Mthethomusha Game Reserve which borders on the Kruger National Park and shares a fence line with the Park came under attack.

On that day, a group of people driving in a white SUV alighted at the entrance of the said lodge. It is said that they then used rubble including stones and branches of trees to barricade the road which leads to the said lodge. Police were called to diffuse the situation, however while they were still clearing the road, other people amongst the group, proceeded to the lodge where they are reported to have broken several doors and helped themselves to liquor as well as other items belonging to the lodge. They also damaged some property as well, torching some of the rooms and other infrastructure before fleeing the scene with the stolen items, leaving behind a trail of costly damages of approximately R9 Million. Employees at the lodge reportedly had to run for their safety as they witnessed the horrific event unfolding in front of their eyes.

Police as well as other emergency personnel including the fire brigade responded to the scene and the blazing fire was extinguished.

Subsequent to this unpalatable event, a case of arson was registered with additional charges including theft, malicious damage to property, as well as public violence and a manhunt was then launched.

Police then received information pertaining to the case hence they traced and apprehended the trio. During their apprehension, one of the suspects was reportedly found in possession of certain items believed to have been stolen from the lodge.

Yesterday, Sunday, 07 February 2021, police received information of illegal poaching that took place in the game reserve where the lodge is situated. They then responded promptly and together with the rangers, they discovered nine carcasses of four different animal species, including three Impala, four Inyala, one Rock Jumper and one Spoted Geanet.

A preliminary probe suggests that the carcasses were abandoned by a group of unscrupulous individuals who were involved in an illegal poaching activity earlier at the game reserve but were somehow given no chance through the visibility of the rangers which undoubtedly forced them to flee the scene, leaving behind their loot. At the same scene, police confiscated other items such as knives, pots and torches.

A case of illegal hunting was registered with the mentioned items seized and a manhunt has been motioned for the suspects. They (police) are following some positive leads in their investigation and are optimistic that arrests are eminent.

However, they also request the community to participate in the investigation, therefore anyone with tangible information pertaining to the said cases, should contact Detective Captain Vusimuzi Thobela at 082 469 1956, or call the Crime Stop number on 08600 10111. Alternatively members of the public can send information via MYSAPSAPP.

Police are also aware of the social media messages vigorously making rounds depicting that some members were reluctant in attending to the torching of the lodge, in that regard, an investigation has been launched. They (police) are also investigating a murder case involving a man who was found dead in his house at Matsulu near Nelspruit.


Source: South African Police Service

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