Two arrested in connection with South Africa's biggest rhino smuggling case
April 21, 2019 | 10:02 PM
by Agencies
The case involved the smuggling of 180 rhino horns weighing a total of 150 kilograms

Johannesburg: Two men have been arrested in South Africa for their alleged involvement in what is believed to be the biggest case of rhino horn smuggling ever recorded in the country.

The case involved the smuggling of 180 rhino horns weighing a total of 150 kilograms, the Ministry of Environmental Affairs said.

The two suspects, Petrus Steyn (61) and Clive John Melville (57), were arrested near Hartebeespoort Dam in the North West province as part of an operation carried out by the Hawks Serious Organized Crime Endangered Species Unit, the Special Task Force and the Tracker SA and Vision Tactical, ministry spokesperson Albi Modise confirmed.

The operation followed a tip-off that a vehicle from a coastal province was carrying a considerable amount of horns destined for Southeast Asian markets, according to Modise.

Without the cooperation and collaboration of the general public, South Africa will not be able to win the battle against rhino poaching and the smuggling of rhino horns, the spokesperson said.

The suspects appeared briefly in the Brits Magistrate's Court in the province on charges related to the illegal rhino horn trade.

The case has been postponed to 26 April 2019.

South Africa, home to more than 80 percent of the world's rhino population, bears the brunt of rhino poaching.

Between 2013 and 2017, more than 1,000 rhinos were killed each year, according to official figures.

The government has warned that the country's rhino population will be close to extinction by 2026 if no effective measures are taken to curb rhino poaching.

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