Merc driver arrested with rhino horns in a cooler box

05 February 2018 - 07:00
By Tony Carnie
File photo.

A man driving a C-class Mercedes-Benz has been arrested after police found four rhino horns hidden in a cooler box inside his car‚ not far from the Kruger National Park.

The 38-year-old was arrested on Friday near the Nkomazi toll plaza‚ east of Nelspruit‚ close to the southernmost border of the Kruger park.

According to a statement posted on the SA Police Services Facebook page‚ officers from the Kaapmuiden police station stopped the vehicle during routine operations and became suspicious when they saw a cooler box on the passenger seat of the Mercedes-Benz.

When the cooler box was opened‚ they found two sets of rhino horns – two large front horns and two smaller back horns.

Praising the officers for their vigilance‚ Mpumalanga SAPS Provincial Commissioner‚ Lieutenant General Mondli Zuma‚ said rhino poaching was treated as a priority crime.

Last year‚ at least 1 028 rhinos were poached nationwide – the fifth consecutive year in which more than a thousand rhinos have been slaughtered for their horns by poaching syndicates.

While the rhino killing rate remains highest in the 2-million hectare Kruger park‚ poaching gangs have also expanded their attacks to other game reserves across the country‚ including Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park in KwaZulu-Natal and Pilanesberg reserve in North West province.

A man is expected to appear in the Barberton Magistrate's Court on Monday morning.