Supreme Court of appeal judgment on domestic moratorium on trade in rhino horn

24 May 2016


The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa has noted the judgment handed down by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in the matter between the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Johan Kruger (the First Applicant) and John Hume (The Second Applicant).

An original application challenging a 2009 moratorium on the domestic trade in rhino horn was brought by Johan Kruger in 2012, joined by John Hume in 2015.

Wildlife Ranching South Africa and the Private Rhino Owners Association of South Africa supported the application.

Last year the High Court of South Africa, Gauteng Division, Pretoria set aside the moratorium. Pursuant to this judgment, the Minister filed an application for leave to appeal to the High Court, which was dismissed. Subsequently the Minister petitioned the SCA for leave to appeal. The SCA on Friday afternoon, 20 May 2016 dismissed the Minister’s application for leave to appeal with costs. No reasons were given for this order.

The Minister of Environmental Affairs is considering the implications of the judgment and will brief the public in due course.

The judgment does not relate to the international trade in rhino horn for commercial purposes, which is still prohibited in terms of the provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Both the possession of rhino horn and the trade in rhino horn, including any derivatives or products thereof, is subject to prior authorization: namely the issuing of the relevant permits in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, (NEMBA) 2004 (Act No 10 of 2004).  A person who is found in possession of a rhino horn, or who sells a rhino horn within the borders of the Republic of South Africa, or who exports a rhino horn from the Republic without the relevant permits, is guilty of an offence and may, if convicted, be liable to a fine not exceeding R10 million, or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 10 years, or both such fine and imprisonment.

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