SANParks refutes claims of poachers mass burial


16 April 2017

South African National Parks (SANParks) rejected claims by a political party that the remains of persons in the Saselani cemetery in Bushbuckridge are those of victims of poaching fatalities in the Kruger National Park (KNP). The allegations are devoid of substance.

“This reckless statement by the political party should be rejected with the contempt that it deserves,” said Dr. Edna Molewa, Minister Environmental Affairs. “This is clearly a political ploy that seeks to score points at the expense of government as we continue to battle wildlife crime. We view the statement as tactic intended to divert our attention from the real criminals by encouraging the communities to believe that the KNP is a war zone. Poaching of wildlife is a real problem confronting this country and it must never be used to play political games.”

Such inflammatory remarks could damage good relations between SANParks and communities living in areas adjacent to the KNP. The communities of Bushbuckridge in particular are playing a leading role in working with SANParks to stamp out rhino poaching inside the KNP

The Mpumalanga Department of Health clarified that the Saselani cemetery contains the remains of persons who couldn’t be identified. They were given pauper burials from the provincial Department of Health in line with standard government protocols.

Pauper burials are common practice around the world when bodies are unclaimed from the State for lengthy periods of time. This includes people who die of both natural and unnatural causes.

SANParks notes that in each and every incident in the KNP involving contact with armed poachers, the South African Police Service (SAPS) attends to the crime scene and does a full investigation. A forensic specialist is in attendance in all such cases.

The SAPS opens dockets for all incidents. Furthermore, in all instances involving incursions the SAPS is in full control and manages the crime scenes within the context of our law.

SANParks calls on all citizens to work in unison and refrain from making divisive remarks that undermine the national effort to combat wildlife crime.

Image: Rhino Safaris

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