The 36 pieces of rhino horn, weighing a total of 116kg, were found after a detector dog reacted positively to a consignment of so-called ‘decoration Items’ in a warehouse.
According to a statement released by SARS, customs officials cut open eight boxes that were attached together with bubble wrap. The horns, which were headed to Dubai, were found hidden underneath laminated wooden sheets. They were discovered in four of the boxes which were supposed to be filled with doormats and decorative items.
Environmental Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane declared the seizure a significant achievement for enforcement agencies working to rid the airport, and the country, of wildlife-related crimes.
The inspection at the warehouse was part of an initiative to increase enforcement activities on cargo for outbound flights, following recent reports that rhino horn, originating from South Africa, has been detected in the Far East.
“The actions of the multi-disciplinary team, comprising members of the police, The Department of Environmental Affairs’ Environmental Management Inspectorate (Green Scorpions), customs and excise, K9 units and ACSA security are to be commended,” Mokonyane said in a statement. “Their successful efforts to rid our ports of entry and exit of wildlife smuggling is an indication of the ongoing success of the Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros approach.”
A criminal case was registered with SAPS, DPCI (HAWKS) for further investigation.
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