Marnus Steyl to face new charges over alleged rhino “pseudo-hunts”

BREAKING NEWS: 4 December, 2012 – Arrest warrants have been issued for game farmer Marnus Steyl and Thai national Punpitak Chunchom in connection with alleged pseudo-hunts of white rhino. Steyl is expected to appear in a Vryburg court on 5 December 2012  to face new charges in connection with alleged “pseudo hunts” of white rhino. For background, read the Mail & Guardian article, “Rhino butchers caught on film”. Watch the 3rd Degree exposé, an eNews Channel Africa report and a CNN piece.

Charges were withdrawn against Steyl, Punpitak, another Thai national, Tool Sriton, and two of Steyl’s farm workers last month. According to information obtained by the DA’s Gareth Morgan, Punpitak left South Africa for Thailand on 10 November, despite the fact that police still have his passport in their possession. Here are Morgan’s parliamentary questions and the reply from the Justice Minister:

3240. Mr G R Morgan (DA) to ask the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development:
(1) With reference to the case of Thai national Chumlong Lemthongthai (details furnished), why were charges against each of the co-accused withdrawn;
(2) Whether the National Prosecuting Authority intends to reinstate any charges against the co-accused; if not, why not; if so, (a) when and (b) what are the further relevant details;
(3) Whether any further charges are contingent on new criminal cases to be opened with the SA Police Service; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?
I wish to inform the Honourable Member that, because of jurisdiction and for centralisation of all related rhino matters, only SARS charges were proceeded with. The NPA instructed the Investigation Officer (IO) to obtain Warrants of arrest for Chumlong and Steyl to appear in Vryburg court on 5 December 2012. A warrant will also be obtained for Punpitak but he has already left RSA on 10 November 2012, the NPA does not know how this happened as SAPS still has his passport. Attempts to complete a draft charge sheet are being done.
No new case dockets will be opened with SAPS but incidents mentioned in the current case docket that have not been investigated fully will be attended to as well.MR J T RADEBE, MP

25 March, 2013: Marnus Steyl has been charged with 29 counts of fraud related to the acquisition of hunting permits for alleged pseudo-hunts. He also faces two counts of illegally hunting white rhinos.

The case has been postponed to 8 July 2013.

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