Pretoria - A 43-year-old man is expected to appear in the Kempton Park Magistrates’ Court on Monday, after he was arrested at the OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) while he was allegedly attempting to smuggle lion bones out of South Africa.
Captain Bonnie Nxumalo, spokesperson for the Hawks in Gauteng, said the man who is a foreign national was arrested on Friday when Bidvest security guards at the major airport discovered suspicious items in his luggage.
“The Germiston-based Hawks’ economic protected resources members were alerted. The luggage was opened and lion bones were recovered,” said Nxumalo.
The man was about to leave South Africa, boarding a flight to Vietnam via Qatar.
“Police further seized foreign currency, a cellphone and two passports. During the preliminary investigation, it was discovered that it is the carcasses of five lions,” said Nxumalo.
She said the man will face charges illegally dealing in wildlife, possession of lion bones and contravening the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act (NEMBA).
“The Hawks, Bidvest security, Crime Intelligence and an official from the Department of Environmental Affairs were at the scene,” said Nxumalo.
An investigation seeking to arrest more suspects is continuing.
Earlier this month, four men appeared before the Molopo Magistrate’s Court in North West after they were arrested by the Hawks while allegedly selling two pangolins at Mahikeng Mall.
Spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in North West, Henry Mamothame said South African citizens Kabelo McDonald Batsi, 36, Tebogo Kodwa, 28, appeared alongside Zimbabwean national Deon Clamans Mubhada, 33, and Botswana national Lesego Siana, 45.
At the time, Mamothame said the matter was adjourned in court, for verification of the statuses of the accused people in preparation for their bail application.
“They are facing two charges of contravention of the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act of 10 of 2004 after they were found in possession of two pangolins,” Mamothame said.
The four men were arrested by members of the Hawks Serious Organised Crime Investigation Unit after their attempt to sell the two pangolins for R200,000.