Rhino horns seized after SMS tip-off
The police have found a collection of illegal rhino horns and boxes of cash after a raid on a flat in Bedford Gardens.
They arrested a Vietnamese man after finding illegal rhino horns worth R15 million as well as millions in cash and foreign currency during a bust on Tuesday night that came as a result of an anonymous tip-off.
Ten rhino horns, an elephant tusk, cash and jewellery were found.
Although the police could not disclose the amount of money found, it probably ran into the millions, said spokesman Colonel Vish Naidoo.
They also found a tray full of US dollars and documentation of other men who Naidoo believes are involved.
Police arrived at the scene at about 7pm and broke the door down because the man refused them entry.
The horns were found spread throughout the flat, in cupboards and drawers, and police broke a safe after the man said he would not open it.
While they continued the search, the man sat silently on the stairs of his two-storey flat, hands cuffed behind his back and a large pillowcase covering his head.
In the middle of the flat lay the evidence: several rhino horns pointing skywards and the tusk resting against a safe and cardboard boxes full of cash.
On the walls hung framed pictures of children and a man and woman on a beach, while a child’s bicycle rested less than 1m from the evidence.
Naidoo said the operation was a result of an anonymous SMS tip-off and was a joint venture between the SAPS, Home Affairs Department officials and the Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department.
Naidoo said the man would most likely be charged with possession of rhino horns, in contravention of the Endangered Species Act.
He will appear in the Germiston Magistrate’s Court by Wednesday.
He will probably also be probed by Sars and the Reserve Bank for being in possession of such a large sum of money.
Naidoo believed that the fight against poaching had intensified this year, with 10 convictions since January and 57 cases involving 166 suspects currently in court.
Despite this, 210 rhinos have been poached in SA since the start of this year.