Durban - A MAN is expected to appear in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court today after he was arrested with a rhino horn weighing 1.2kg and valued at R1.2 million.
The arrest came barely two weeks after World Rhino Day was commemorated last month.
It is alleged that a joint operation between the Pietermaritzburg Flying Squad and K9 Unit led to the 30- yearold man’s arrest on Friday.
He was tracked driving a black BMW Z4 along the N3 southbound, past the Church Street off- ramp.
Police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said the arrest was made while the Pietermaritzburg Flying Squad and K9 Unit were conducting their duties. They stopped and searched his car and found the rhino horn. The police seized the car.
“A 30- year- old suspect was placed under arrest and was charged for possession of a rhino horn,” said Gwala.
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife spokesperson Musa Mntambo said they trusted that the arrest would result in a conviction and serve as a deterrent to would- be poachers that rhino poaching does not pay.
Mntambo congratulated all government departments involved in the arrest and said it was one of many wildlife- related arrests made this year.
Environmental Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube- Ncube said that as guided by the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act they were obliged to sustain their fight against wildlife crime.
In terms of the act, the illegal trade in ivory is a criminal offence and anyone found guilty could receive a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail or a fine of R10m.
Dube- Ncube said cutting edge technology ensured early detection of any suspected rhino poaching attempt and rapid response in the fight against poaching.
She said the implementation of smart technologies had resulted in a decline in poaching over the past few years.
“However, it must be noted that while this decline is evident, the pressure on our rhino is ever present. Ezemvelo staff will continue with the steady and stable implementation of these technologies to ensure that critical support is provided to our Operations Team,” said Dube- Ncube.
Since the start of the year, only 66 rhinos have been poached in KwaZulu- Natal with three months left in the year. A total of 133 rhinos were poached in the province last year and 142 in 2018.
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife attributed the low number to the national lockdown which came into effect at the end of March because of the Covid- 19 pandemic.