Sars uncovers rhino horn worth R53m destined for Malaysia at OR Tambo

04 February 2021 - 14:39
Figures released by environment, forestry and fisheries minister Barbara Creecy show that 394 rhino were poached for their horn in SA in 2020 - down from 594 in 2019. File photo.
Figures released by environment, forestry and fisheries minister Barbara Creecy show that 394 rhino were poached for their horn in SA in 2020 - down from 594 in 2019. File photo.
Image: 123RF.COM

SA Revenue Service (Sars) customs unit uncovered a large shipment of rhino horn worth R53m and destined for Malaysia during a bust at OR Tambo International Airport. 

In a statement on Thursday, Sars said its customs detector dog unit identified a suspicious shipment declared as “HP Cartridges Developers” while perusing cargo manifests at the airport's courier facility. 

“The three-piece shipment was taken to the X-ray scanner for non-intrusive inspection, where the image analysis reflected objects resembling the shape of rhino horns. The shipment was taken for physical inspection and upon inspection of the boxes, 18 pieces of rhino horn were found concealed in traditional clothing. The goods weighed 63kg.”

Customs officials called the Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigation (the Hawks) to the scene, who confiscated the shipment for further investigation.

This is the fourth rhino horn bust by Sars Customs at OR Tambo airport between July 2020 and February 2021.

“The overall weight of the rhino horn seized in these four cases is 277.3kg with an estimated value of R234,114,206.”

Last month the Hawks arrested a 36-year-old Gauteng man, Kelvin Chigwede, for being a suspected rhino horn dealer. 

He was arrested in Benoni after being found in possession of R500,000, suspected to be proceeds of illegal rhino horn dealings.

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