NAMIBIA: Bail granted in Sable Theft Case

TWO Otjiwarongo area game farmers and a helicopter pilot who are accused of stealing three prized sable antelope from the Waterberg Plateau Park have been granted bail of N$60 000 each after spending more than a week in Police custody.

A bail application by Otjiwarongo district farmers Herbert Henle (47) and Hans Erno Diekmann (51), helicopter pilot Jurgen Richard Benz (35) and a farm manager employed by Henle, Michael Graf Zu Bentheim (33), ended in the Otjiwarongo Magistrate's Court around 20h00 on Monday evening with Magistrate Stanley Tembwe granting bail to all four men.

Henle, Diekmann and Benz were granted bail of N$60 000 each, while Zu Bentheim was granted bail of N$10 000.

Henle, Diekmann and Benz were arrested on October 25, allegedly after Henle and Diekmann were found on a gravel road east of Otjiwarongo transporting three sable antelope by truck from a farm belonging to the Diekmann family and situated next to the Waterberg Plateau Park, without having the necessary permits to possess and move the animals.

Benz is claimed to have piloted a helicopter that was used in capturing the sable antelope before they were loaded onto the truck.

It is being alleged that the animals came from the Waterberg Plateau Park, from where they had escaped, possibly when a rhino broke through a fence of the park some three months ago, a source indicated yesterday.

Henle, Diekmann and Benz made a first appearance in the Otjiwarongo Magistrate's Court on Monday last week. They have been charged with theft, hunting of protected game, and transporting game without a permit.
Zu Bentheim was arrested a day later. He has been charged with obstruction of justice, after he allegedly removed possible exhibits in the case from the truck that had been used by Henle and Diekmann.

The truck belongs to Henle, who owns the Mount Paresis Guest and Hunting Farm west of Otjiwarongo.

The court was told during the bail application that Henle and Diekmann are admitting that they were found in possession of the sable antelope and that they did not have a permit to transport the animals. They are however disputing that the animals had been stolen from Waterberg Plateau Park.

The Magistrate granted the bail on condition that the charged men may not interfere with the Police investigation of the case, may not leave the district of Otjiwarongo or travel outside Namibia without permission from the Otjiwarongo Police Station commander, and that Henle and Diekmann may not remove or dispose of any sable antelope on their farms for three months.

The four men have to appear in court again on January 14 2010.
Defence lawyer Jan Wessels represented Diekmann while Louis Botes represented the other three men during the bail application. Public Prosecutor Carol-Ann Esterhuizen appeared for the State.