Some of the stolen cycad plants. Image: SAPS

Jail time for cycad thieves 3 individuals, namely Shadrack Matambo (43), Leonard Khumalo (53), and Thabani Sibanda (39), have been sentenced to serve extensive jail terms for the theft of protected plants valued at approximately R2 million.

The trio was initially spotted by a traffic officer at a fuel station along the N1 near Kroonstad a year ago. The officer became suspicious of their cargo and confronted them. However, they managed to escape while being escorted to the police station.

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The Evidence

The suspects abandoned their vehicle, which was found to contain 50 bread tree cycads. They did not possess a permit to either possess or transport these plants, making their actions illegal.

Jail time for cycad thieves

In December, the Welkom serious organised crime investigation (SOCI) unit and Welkom tactical response team (TRT) traced and arrested Matambo in Gauteng. A subsequent operation conducted by Welkom SOCI and Sasolburg TRT in February resulted in the capture of Khumalo and Sibanda, also in Gauteng.

The Sentencing

Matambo, a Zimbabwean national, was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for theft and an additional three months for residing in South Africa illegally. Khumalo received a 12-year sentence for theft, while Sibanda was handed an eight-year jail term.

By Shamiso Miracle

Shamiso Miracle completed her degree in journalism and media studies at the University of Zimbabwe before honing her skills at Savanna News. She then went on to work at iHarare News, becoming a voice for everyday SA citizens who wanted to share their stories. When she's not writing news that entertains and inspires ,Shamiso is an avid reader and a wellness bunny.

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