2 arrested in ‘one of biggest hauls’ of rhino horns

South African police said on Sunday they had found 167 rhino horns believed to be destined for Asia and nabbed two suspects in a sting operation in the North West province.

The two were arrested on Saturday following a tip off that there was a car transporting rhino horns.

It is one of the biggest hauls of rhino horns in the country, according to the Hawks.

“We arrested them on Saturday in the Hartbeespoort dam area. They were driving in a vehicle and they were intercepted,” Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said.

“It was an intelligence-driven operation that led to the arrest of the two. They were found in possession of those 167 rhino horns,” he said, adding “it is one of biggest (hauls)”.

The suspects aged 57 and 61 years are expected to appear in the Brits town magistrate’s court on Monday.

Police said the rhino horns worth a “substantial amount of money” were destined for the Southeast Asian markets.

Demand for rhino horn is primarily fuelled by consumers in China and Vietnam where it is advertised by some traditional medicine practitioners as a wonder ingredient.

In reality rhino horn is a nostrum, comprised of little more than keratin, the same protein that makes human hair and fingernails.

Nonetheless horn can fetch up to $60 000/kg in Asia, stoking lucrative transnational crime networks that have decimated rhino populations in recent decades.

South Africa, which is home to about 80% of the world rhino population, has been hit hardest. In 2018, 769 rhinos were poached in South Africa alone. More than 7 100 animals have been killed over the past decade.

One thought on “2 arrested in ‘one of biggest hauls’ of rhino horns

  • April 26, 2019 at 7:50 am

    Two Port Elizabeth men arrested in connection with possession of 167 rhino horn are due to appear again in the Brits Magistrate’s Court in the North West on Friday.

    The 61-year-old Petrus Stephanus Steyn and the 57-year-old Clive John Melville are expected to bring their formal bail application on charges of illegal trade in rhino horn.

    They were arrested in a sting operation at Peacanwood, Hartbeespoort Dam, near Brits, on April 13, after a tip-off that a vehicle from a coastal province was carrying a considerable amount of rhino horn.

    The vehicle was intercepted in the Hartbeespoort Dam area where the 167 rhino horns worth a substantial amount of money were seized.

    The Hawks said at the time that the rhino horn was destined for the South East Asian markets

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