A Namibian mother and daughter have been hailed for their “bravery” after pursuing a gang of suspected dog smugglers operating in Cape Town to the border with Angola.
The syndicate, believed to be run by Angolans, travelled for 2 000km from Cape Town to Namibia last weekend where an alert Maghitta Visser spotted a Bantam bakkie, crammed with chained dogs, with a Cape Town licence plate near the remote Oshikango border post.
The syndicate reportedly trades in purebred dogs snatch-ed from Cape Town homes, including huskies, ridgebacks, rottweilers and boerboels, used for breeding, dog fights, security and mine clearing in Angola. It has been claimed that the dogs are sold for $5 000 (R42 000) each.
Last night, as they travelled back with a police escort, Marchelle Visser told the Saturday Star that when her mother first saw the suspected smugglers, she stopped their bakkie. “She found 10 pedigreed dogs chained up inside. My mother went to the police.”
The dogs were covered in urine and faeces.
The driver was apprehended at the Ondangwa police station where the dogs were photographed, before being released. On Thursday, Visser and her other daughter, who cannot be named, tried to stop the dogs going through the Angolan border, but a crowd gathered and Visser was reportedly manhandled and locked in a nearby cafeteria.
The alleged syndicate, said Visser, had managed to evade suspicion because they convinced authorities that they were the rightful owners of the dogs. “They had rabies papers and international movement permits, but is that enough to get dogs through the borders?”
Last night, one of the alleged syndicate members allegedly beat Visser and threatened her life at the border post between Namibia and Angola.
“The Namibian police have really helped us, but it was the Angolan customs officials who gave us protection after the threats on my mother and kept us safe,” she said.
It is said that a Jeep Cherokee with 28 dogs in wooden trailers had also crossed into Angola earlier this month. Now police in Namibia, Angola and SA are investigating the possible dog smuggling syndicate after the dogs’ owners in Cape Town approached Interpol.
“We were approached to intervene about a number of dogs being stolen in the Cape going through Namibia and into Angola,” said Interpol SA spokesman Dennis Adriao.
“We’ve contacted various authorities in Namibia and Angola and there are various consignments of dogs. We were able to get authorities in Angola to stop vehicles with a number of dogs. Interpol is linking up with those authorities to establish what can be done to identify the stolen dogs and get them back to South Africa.”
Two huskies in one of the vehicles have since been identified by their owners in Kirstenbosch and a case of theft has been opened. “We are helping the detectives in Cape Town as this does go across the border.”
Andre Snyman, e-blockwatch founder, said the vehicles were travelling with false number plates and were reportedly stolen from Cape Town. “How did these vehicles get through two borders without all the right documents and false number plates? These women are so brave. They have chased these guys and spent days on their tail.”
By last night 15 dogs had been placed in kennels at Oshikango.
Dr Sanil Singh said vets were circulating information from the National Council of SPCAs on the suspected dog-smuggling operation.