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04 Feb 2021

SARS Customs dogs detect R53 million rhino horn shipment

(Highway Mail) Picture: Martyn Gomersall - Pexels

A customs detector dog unit has identified a shipment of rhino horn, headed to Malaysia, with an estimated value of R53 172 000.  This led to a massive SARS customs rhino horn bust, the fourth of its kind since July last year.

According to South African Revenue Service (SARS) the customs officers immediately reported the find to the Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigation (Hawks) who confiscated the shipment at the scene for further investigation.

In a statement released on Thursday,  4 February, the customs unit of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) announced that while conducting manifest profiling at the courier facilities, the Customs Detector Dog Unit (CDOU) at O.R. Tambo International Airport selected a suspicious shipment declared as ‘HP Cartridges Developers’. SARS said the shipment, comprising three pieces, was inspected by an X-ray scanner and the image analysis reflected objects resembling the shape of rhino horns. After the suspicious shipment was opened for physical inspection, 18 pieces of rhino horn were found concealed within traditional clothing. The goods weighed 63 kg.

This is the fourth rhino horn bust by SARS Customs at the O.R. Tambo International Airport between July 2020 and February 2021. The overall weight of the rhino horn seized in these four cases is 277.30 kg with an estimated value of R 234 114 206.

Reacting to the  massive seizure of the rhino horn, Commissioner Edward Kieswetter congratulated the Customs officers for their excellent work.  He warned criminals that SARS, working with other law enforcement agencies, would spare no efforts in confronting and dealing decisively with any criminal malfeasance.  He said those involved in poaching and mutilation of rhinoceros would be brought to book.

“Those that are determined to destroy the rich natural endowment of our country, which is a common treasure and heritage for all, that we should look after for future generations, will be met with unwavering commitment of our officers to enforce the law,” he said.