August 11 2017 – A ZIMBABWEAN woman has been arrested at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, for smuggling and the illegal possession of two rhino horns, says the environmental affairs department said on Friday(yesterday)
“The 30-year-old 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,” says spokesperson Albi Modise.
“The arrest of the Zimbabwean 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 was arrested transporting 11 rhino horns.”
The unnamed woman Zimbabwean woman is expected to appear in court soon.
Modise said that the confiscated rhino horn would 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.
Environmental Affairs Minister, Edna Molewa, congratulated members of the Environmental Management Inspectorate (known as the Green Scorpions) for their assistance in the arrest of an alleged rhino horn smuggler.
“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, [the SA Revenue Services]SARS, SAPS and other government agencies as they strive to combat the illegal import and export of wildlife products,” says Molewa.
Modise said that 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 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 an imprisonment for a period not exceeding 10 years; or both such a fine and such imprisonment,” Modise said. –ANA