The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, has welcomed the direct four-year sentence handed down to a Chinese national in the Kempton Park Regional Court on 12 October 2017 who had pleaded guilty to charges related to rhino horn smuggling.
The Shuangshuang Xue, 24, was arrested at OR Tambo International Airport en-route from Lusaka, Zambia to Hong Kong, China. A suitcase checked in a baggage by the woman contained 14 pieces of rhinoceros horn with a weight of approximately 16 kg was intercepted by security screening personnel at the luggage transfer area of the international terminal at OR Tambo International Airport.
Shuangshuang was arrested as there were no permits accompanying the suitcase and its contents. The rhinoceros horn was confiscated and handed in at the Forensic Science Laboratory of the South African Police Service (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 incidents or registered stockpile.
The National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (Act No. 10 of 2004) (NEMBA), requires that the original documentation from the country of origin must accompany a consignment. If there is no such original accompanying documentation, an import permit issued in terms of NEMBA and in accordance with the provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), is required.
The investigation and arrest were the result of collaboration between officials from the SAPS, Customs division of the South African Revenue Services, security screening companies and Environmental Management Inspectors (EMI`s) of the Department of Environmental Affairs, based at OR Tambo International 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,” said Minister Molewa.