The two Vietnamese nationals who were arrested at the OR Tambo airport on Friday evening after being found in possession of approximately 41kgs of rhino horn, will appear in the Kempton Park Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.
The two men, believed to be part of a large syndicate, were booked on a Qatar flight destined for Hanoi, Vietnam, from Maputo.
The aircraft made a one-hour scheduled stop at the Johannesburg airport last night, during which the passengers were initially expected to remain inside the aircraft.
But passengers were later asked to exit the flight and proceed to the international departures area as authorities had received information through crime intelligence that there would be two men travelling with the horns.
Police spokesperson Solomon Makgale said 18 horns were discovered in the suspect’s bags.
“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,” said Makgale.
It is believed that the rhino horns seized may have been taken from rhino in the Kruger National Park, but tests and analysis on the horns would verify this.
Survival equipment to the value of R2 million was handed over at a ceremony in Phalaborwa today, 31 October 2014. Major General (r) Johan Jooste, Commanding Officer, Special Projects for South African National Parks, and representatives of the Ranger Corps were on hand to receive the equipment. The donation was made possible by the Unite against Poaching Trust and the SANParks Honorary Rangers.
Louis Lemmer (Chairman, SANParks Honorary Rangers), Maj Gen Jooste ( Commander, Special Operations KNP), John Turner & Snowy Botha ( SANParks Honorary Rangers Conservation Services)
The equipment which was handed over comprises of basic as well as specialist equipment, which is needed by the men and woman of the Ranger Corps within the Kruger National Park. It includes survival tools such as tents, camp mattresses, torches, sleeping bags, knives, groundsheets, ponchos, water bottles, cooking equipment, headlamps, mosquito nets, medical equipment and GPS’s. Rangers spend extended periods of time in the bush in clandestine operations to fight the poachers. Specialised as well as basic survival equipment is needed to enable them to perform these duties effectively.
Unitrans Volkswagen, in establishing the innovative “Unite against Poaching Trust” is committed to making a significant and sustainable difference in the war against rhino poaching within our national Parks. The Funding for the Unite against Poaching Trust is generated primarily from a Unitrans Volkswagen corporate pledge. For every vehicle sold both new and pre-owned in the 10 participating dealership countrywide, funds are pledged to the Unite against Poaching Trust. Since its inception three years ago, the Unite against Poaching Trust has donated more than R 8 million towards anti-poaching projects within our National Parks. What makes this initiative so unique is that 100% of the funds pledged are utilised for anti-poaching support.
Kevin Gillmer Divisional Chief Executive of Unitrans Volkswagen is determined to ensure that the funds which are pledged to the Unite against Poaching Trust are used effectively and efficiently in support of those men and woman who are on the ground, putting their lives on the line and fighting to ensure the rhinos are safeguarded for future generations. The SANParks Honorary Rangers is the official volunteer organisation of SANParks. Through their close working relationship with the SANParks counter poaching unit they know where the priority needs are. Because the Honorary Rangers are unpaid volunteers no funds are used for administration and every sent donated towards counter poaching is utilised solely for this purpose. They therefore have the unique ability to best utilise the resources available to make a real difference in the poaching war on the ground. “This equipment handover once again confirms our ongoing commitment to the war against rhino poaching in general and rhino poaching in particular” Gillmer said. “We need to make sure that our rangers are as well as, if not better equipped, than the poachers they come up against on a daily basis.
“It is our privilege to represent the people of South Africa in support of our national parks.” said Louis Lemmer, National Chairperson of the SANParks Honorary Rangers. “South Africans are united against rhino poaching. It is through the support of the people of South Africa and proudly South African companies such as Unitrans Volkswagen, that we will win this war.”
Unitrans Volkswagen is justifiably proud of their contribution, in partnership with the SANParks Honorary Rangers, ensuring that the Rangers in the field are able to continue to safeguard the rhinos for future generations. We would like to encourage members of the public and corporates to join us in this fight against rhino poaching within our national parks by ensuring that the next Volkswagen vehicle they purchase is made from one our participating dealerships. The more vehicles which are purchased the more funding we are able to pledge to the fight against rhino poaching. Please visit www.uniteagainstpoaching.co.za to see how you can make a difference. The time is now, for everyone to Unite against Poaching to help ensure this precious heritage for our children’s children.
54 Rhino Poaching Suspects Arrested in KNP in October 2014
South African National Parks (SANParks) today announced the arrest of six suspected poachers and the fatal wounding of two others in two separate operations. In the first operation, Crocodile Bridge Rangers made contact with three suspected rhino poachers. In the ensuing pursuit, two were fatally wounded and the third managed to escape back into Mozambique. A hunting rifle, ammunition and other hunting equipment was r...ecovered on the scene.
In the second operation, six suspects were arrested by the SANParks Environmental Crime Investigative Unit, with the support of the SAPS, in a follow up operation outside the western boundary of the Kruger National Park (KNP). A hunting rifle, ammunition and two cars were confiscated. The arrests follow two weeks of successful operations, resulting in 35 suspected poachers being taken into custody and brings the total arrests in the KNP for the month of October to a record 54.
The KNP has experienced an increase in armed incursions recently, resulting in 14 contacts between armed poaching gangs and Joint Forces consisting of SANParks Rangers, SAPS and SANDF.
The latest arrests bring the total for the year within the KNP to 144. This is the highest number of suspected poachers arrested in the KNP to date.
Commenting on the latest situation in the KNP, the Acting Chief Executive of SANParks, Dr Nomvuselelo Songelwa, praised the actions of the SANParks rangers, and the SAPS and SANDF forces engaged in the fight against rhino poaching: “I would like to thank the men and women of our Joint Forces for the courage and tenacity they have shown in the fight to safeguard the rhino population in the KNP. We are very proud of them and their actions. We are focused on winning this war at all costs and I can promise South Africans that we will leave nothing to chance in protecting our rhino in this iconic park and in our other national parks” concluded Songelwa.
As the SAPS we have been doing a lot of work to prevent and detect environment related crimes, in particular rhino poaching. This is a serious concern for us and noting current situation, I have decided to boost the capacity of police personnel, particularly in crime-scene management, to combat rhino poaching in South Africa.
As we all appreciate, the greatest challenge in policing this criminality in the Kruger National Park is that it is one of the largest game reserves in Africa. It covers an area of 2 million hectors (20 000 square kilometres) covering Limpopo and Mpumalanga in north eastern South Africa thus making it larger than the whole of France and even Israel.
I have therefore directed that a team of detectives trained in Wildlife Crime Investigations, our forensics experts, the SAPS airwing, the flying squad and our dog unit led by Lieutenant General Moonoo to assist our South African National Parks Board colleagues with current investigations.
This additional team will attend to all the outstanding and new crime scenes and continue to do proper crime scene investigation and management. During these past two weeks this multi-disciplinary team visited several scenes where rhinos were killed.