Arrest of a rhino horn smuggler at OR Tambo International Airport welcomed

11 August 2017


The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, has congratulated members of the Environmental Management Inspectorate, also known as the Green Scorpions, for their assistance in the arrest of an alleged rhino horn smuggler at the OR Tambo International Airport on Thursday, 10 August 2017.

The 30-year-old Zimbabwean woman was arrested after suspicious items were noticed by private security personnel during scanning of her check-in luggage and reported to customs officials who, in turn, called the Green Scorpions to assist with identification of the items. The horns were found hidden amongst electronic items in a suitcase.

The arrest of the Zimbabwean national in connection with the smuggling and illegal possession of two rhino comes less than two weeks after the arrest of a 24-year-old Chinese woman at OR Tambo International who was in transit from Zambia to Hong Kong. The Zambian national was arrested transporting 11 rhino horn.

The confiscated rhino horn will be subjected to genetic profiling by the Forensic Science Laboratory of the South African Police Service (SAPS), to determine the origin of the rhinoceros horn or possible linkages with other investigations.

In terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (Act No. 10 of 2004) (NEMBA) as well as the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a permit is required to possess or transport rhino horn.

Non-compliance with the NEMBA permit requirement is a criminal offence in which a person convicted of the crime is liable to:

(a) a fine not exceeding R10 million, or a fine equal to three times the commercial value of the rhinoceros horn in respect of which the offence was committed, whichever is the greater; or

(b) an imprisonment for a period not exceeding 10 years, or

(c) both such a fine and such imprisonment.

“The successes we are recording in terms of the Integrated Strategic Management approach can be attributed to the excellent cooperation with, and collaboration between, the Green Scorpions, SARS, SAPS and other government agencies as they strive to combat the illegal import and export of wildlife products,”  said Minister Molewa.

For media inquiries contact:

Albi Modise
Cell: 083 490 2871