Beitbridge: SA trio fined $20,000 each over antelope

THREE South Africans were found guilty on Monday in a Zimbabwean court in Beitbridge of attempting to illegally export sable antelope from Zimbabwe.

Edwin Hewitt, Hendricks Blignaut, and John Pretorius, all from Limpopo province, had to pay fines of R330 000 (about $20,900) each, as well as surrender their two vehicles plus 23 adult and six sable calves, valued at about R4 million, to the state.

After two years of negotiations via a Zimbabwean wildlife intermediary, the South Africans had bought the sables in Zambia and picked them up in northern Zimbabwe in September.

However, their vehicle got stuck in the sand in the Limpopo River as they tried to cross into South Africa with the antelope.

The men were also found guilty of trying to cross the border at an undesignated point, following a route heavily used by smugglers.

The men were refused bail after they were arrested, but were released on Monday after their trial ended.

Theo Bronkhorst, the local hunter who has been charged for arranging an illegal hunt in which Cecil the lion was killed, was also arrested in connection with the South Africans’ purchase of the sable.

He had arranged the purchase of the sable in Zambia and dropped the animals off in Zimbabwe for the South Africans to collect.

He also imported some sable for his own use as he breeds wildlife on a small concession in north west Zimbabwe.

Bronkhorst has applied to the courts to dismiss all charges against him for his role in the Cecil the lion hunt, and in connection with the sable.

Earlier this year the prosecutor-general’s office found that Bronkhorst’s client, the American dentist who shot Cecil, had committed no offence.

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