A Mpumalanga man caught in possession of a young adult pangolin in a drum at his house, has been jailed for eight years
Vincent Nyathi, 32, was arrested when members of the national intervention unit, who were deployed to Mpumalanga as part of a project to fight rhino poaching, received information about the endangered scaly anteater.
They found the mammal in a back room at Nyathi’s house where it was kept in a drum without any food and water.
Prosecutor Ansie Venter told the court the pangolin stood on its hind legs in the drum, peeping over the edge when police found it.
Nyathi initially told the police he looked after the mammal on someone’s behalf. However, he was unable to say who the person was.
Nyathi pleaded not guilty and called two witnesses to testify on his behalf. But Magistrate Elmarie Theron rejected their testimony on the basis that they gave conflicting information.
He was found guilty of possession of an endangered species.
Theron found that Nyathi did not show any remorse. He was sentenced last week.
During arguments in aggravation of the sentence, Venter told the court pangolins were one of the most endangered species in the world. The animal is usually killed to get the scales in which it’s covered.
These scales are sold on the black market at around $3 000 (around R46 000) per kilogram. Scales are used in traditional medicine and their meat is a high-end delicacy, especially in China.