In a joint operation, the South African Police Service’s National Crime Intelligence Division and the South African Revenue Service’s Customs and Excise department took yet another giant leap towards combatting rhino poaching in South Africa.
The team arrested two Vietnamese men who are believed to be part of a large syndicate and recovered a substantial amount of rhino horns at the O R Tambo International Airport (ORTIA).
The two men were booked on a Qatar flight destined for Hanoi, Vietnam, from Maputo. The aircraft made a one-hour scheduled stop at ORTIA last night during which the passengers were expected to remain inside the aircraft. However, all the passengers were requested to exit the aircraft and proceed to the International Departures area where bags containing approximately 41 kilograms of horns were discovered and the two men arrested.
This is the largest haul of rhino horns seized in one operation in South Africa. It is believed that these horns were removed from rhinos in South Africa. The two Vietnamese men are in police custody and they are expected to appear in the Kempton Park Magistrates’ Court on Monday, 3 November 2014. Police will continue to work tirelessly to secure lengthy sentences in this case.
In 2012, three Mozambican Nationals, Aselmi Baloyi, Jawaki Nkuna and Ismael Baloyi were arrested for rhino poaching and were sentenced to an effective 25 years imprisonment each by the Phalaborwa Regional Court. Also a few months ago, a man arrested for rhino poaching in the Kruger National Park was sentenced to 75 years imprisonment.
Detectives investigating this case will now be looking for the South African connections forming part of the international syndicate. Anyone with information can call the SAPS Crime Stop number 086 00 10111. All calls can be made anonymously and all information will be treated as strictly confidential.