Sun. Jul 21st, 2019

Suspected rhino horn dealer arrested at OR Tambo Airport

rhino hornThe suspect was on his way to the UAE.

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On Tuesday, the Hawks’ Serious Organised Crime Investigation unit caught a suspicious traveller at the O.R Tambo International Airport with 30kg of rhino horns.

Suspect caught with rhino horns at O.R Tambo

According to police spokesperson, Captain Ndivhumo Mulamu, the suspect was arrested before he could board his flight to the Middle East.

Related: Rhino poaching: Case against Zululand kingpin to proceed after numerous delays

“The Hawks’ Serious Organised Crime Investigation apprehended the suspect at OR Tambo International Airport on Tuesday whilst he was reportedly travelling to the United Arab Emirates (UAE),” Captain Mulamu confirmed.

Suspected dealer due in court

At this point, authorities are treating the suspect as an alleged dealer.

“He was arrested immediately and will be facing charges of possession of rhino horns and contravention of Section 57 of the National Environmental Management-Biodiversity (Nemba) Act.” the police said.

The trading of horn is illegal in South Africa. This is in line with the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) regulations.

Therefore, a conviction on the charges could see the suspect spend anywhere between 15 to 40 years in prison.

“The suspect is expected to appear before the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, for alleged illegal possession of rhino horns valued at a substantial amount of money,” he said

Related: “We’ve reached Day Zero” – says John Hume in plea to help save the rhino

The large demand for rhino horn in black market

South Africa has had to double down on its efforts to protect the endangered species since its horns are a well-sought-after commodity in the black market.

Based on the Asian market’s 2018 black market prices, The Conversation calculated that for a kilogram of rhino horns, sellers can get R933 929 ($65 000).

Related: Hawks arrest two suspects in possession of 167 rhino horns

Using this figure (which may fluctuate based on currency behaviour), we can estimate that the 30kg seized by the Hawks is worth R28-million in the black market.

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