The trial of the six accused charged with criminal offences related to rhino poaching will continue on January 21.
There are however mixed feelings about them being released on bail.
Supporters were ecstatic and celebrated outside the court house on Friday with loud music and dancing upon the release of Petros Sidney Mabuza, Claude Lubisi, Clyde Mnisi, Joseph Nyalunga, Aretha Mhlanga and Rachel Qwebana.
On the other hand Jamie Joseph from the NGO Saving the Wild said that it was a devastating blow to anti-poaching campaigns, the police and the prosecutors who put up a brave fight.
“I can only assume the state will appeal, and Saving the Wild will, as a matter of urgency, put a legal watching brief on the appeal and on the trial,” she said and called the amount of bail “pocket change” for the accused.
After almost a month-long bail application, Nyalunga was granted bail of R120 000 and was with a warning on an additional charge of illegal hunting. Mabuza was granted bail of R90 000 and Mnisi R50 000, while Lubisi, Mhlanga and Qwebana were both released on R10 000 each.
The accused must adhere to strict bail conditions. “They are not allowed to enter the Kruger National Park and are not allowed to leave the province of Mpumalanga without notifying the investigating officer,” said Magistrate Mjaji Jan Ngobeni.
A compromise will be made when the accused need to attend proceedings at the court in Skukuza regarding other pending cases related to similar charges.