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German nationals caught stealing lizards in Northern Cape rearrested for alleged Gauteng case

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Two German nationals who struck a plea deal in their trial for the illegal trade and possession of reptiles and controlled substances in the Northern Cape have been rearrested on similar charges for an alleged case in Gauteng.

Daniel Lohde and Marko Drescher had entered a plea agreement admitting to the possession of and illegal trade in Cites-listed species in the case relating to their November 2021 arrest, said environment department spokesperson Albi Modise. They were rearrested as they walked out of court in Upington on Thursday.

“As a result of ongoing investigations, both men have been rearrested on similar charges linked to a case in Gauteng,” said Modise.

“More arrests are expected in the Gauteng matter. The men are expected to appear in the Kempton Park magistrate’s court soon.”

Modise said their conviction this week followed the arrest of the men last year near Askham in the Northern Cape.

They were caught in a multi-agency reptile undercover operation comprising the department of forestry, fisheries and the environment’s Green Scorpions and the Hawks, assisted by the environmental crime fusion centre, the police, SANParks environmental crime inspectors, the Northern Cape department of environmental affairs and the private sector.

“They were nabbed while catching reptiles, including armadillo girdled lizards, which are a threatened and protected species, giant ground geckos, several other lizards and four tortoises in the Northern Cape with the intention to smuggle them out of SA.”

All tortoises are listed by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) of Wild Fauna and Flora which regulates the international trade in these species.

In terms of the plea agreement, the men were each sentenced to a R175,000 fine, wholly suspended for five years.

Lohde was also ordered to pay R350,000 and Drescher R100,000 into the environment department’s account “for the purpose of the proper execution of the environmental management inspectorate’s enforcement duties to address the illegal trade of succulents in SA, particularly in the Northern Cape”.

Source: TimesLIVE

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