Case Law Database

Crimes that affect the environment

Species Involved

• Rhino


• CITES protected species
• Protected area/habitat

Wawito Mawala v S

Fact Summary

The accused and three other men were inside the Ndumo Game Reserve on 19 November 2011 at 17:00. One man was carrying a firearm. Game rangers patrolling in the Reserve caught sight of the men in pursuit of a rhino. The rangers ordered the man to put down the firearm. Instead, he turned and pointed it at the rangers. Realising that danger was imminent, the rangers fired shots, fatally injuring the man. The other three men disappeared into the Reserve. Early the following morning, the accused was found, still inside the reserve and wearing the same clothes. He was arrested.

Having been correctly identified, the primary issue was whether or not he could be held liable for the death of the deceased man. To be held liable one would have to show that the accused intended that the deceased be killed. This form of intention will be present where, subjectively, the accused foresaw the possibility of his actions resulting in the death of the deceased (even if only remote) and that he reconciled himself to this possibility and proceeded anyway.

Sentence Date:

Cross-Cutting Issues


... for

• attempt

... based on

• criminal intention

... as involves

• principal offender(s)


Involved Countries

South Africa

Procedural Information

Legal System:
Mixed System
Latest Court Ruling:
Court of 1st Instance
Proceeding #1:
  • Stage:
    first trial
  • Court

    • Criminal


    The Court found that when they conspired to embark upon a common design to hunt the rhino the accused foresaw the possibility of injury or death of a person, and that he persisted regardless of the consequences. The accused was therefore convicted of the murder of his co-accused. In proving the first count, by implication the state had also proved counts two and three.

    Judgement: Mr Mawala was convicted on counts one, two and three.



  • Verdict:
  • Defendants / Respondents in the first instance

    Number of other accused:
    Wawito Mawala
    South African


    KwaZulu-Natal Regional Court