PRETORIA, South African Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa has welcomed the four-year jail sentence handed out to a 24-year-old Chinese national who was found guilty on charges of rhino horn smuggling by the Kempton Park Regional Court in Johannesburg here last week.
Shuangshuang Xue was arrested at Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport en-route from Lusaka, Zambia, to Hong Kong, China. A suitcase which was checked in at baggage counter by the woman contained 14 pieces of rhinoceros horn with a weight of approximately 16 kilogrammes which were intercepted by security screening personnel at the luggage transfer area of the international terminal at the airport.
The collaboration between law enforcement officials at the airport, in the investigation and subsequent judicial process, needs to be commended. It is only through such continued cooperation and collaboration that the battle against rhino poaching, being undertaken through the Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros Approach, will be won, Molewa said Wednesday.
The investigation and arrest were the result of collaboration between officials from the South African Police Service (SAPS), the Customs division of the South African Revenue Services, security screening companies and Environmental Management Inspectors of the Department of Environmental Affairs based at OR Tambo International Airport.
The Department of Environmental Affairs said Xue was arrested as there was no permit accompanying the suitcase and its contents. The rhinoceros horns were confiscated and handed in at the Forensic Science Laboratory of the SAPS, to determine the origin of the rhinoceros horn or possible linkages with other investigations.
During genetic profiling it was discovered that the 14 pieces of rhinoceros horn were from the white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum), from five different animals of which were four males and one female. None of the 14 pieces of rhino horn could be linked to any poaching incident or registered stockpile, the department said.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK