Robbers make off with 50 rhino horns from North West stockpile facility

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Robbers make off with 50 rhino horns from North West stockpile facility
Robbers make off with 50 rhino horns from North West stockpile facility

Africa-Press – South-Africa. More than 50 rhino horns have been stolen from a stockpile in the North West.

The horns were stolen from the North West Parks and Tourism Board in Mahikeng, said Hawks spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Tinyiko Mathebula.

“I can confirm that there was a break-in at the North West Parks and Tourism Board where about 51 rhino horns were allegedly stolen. The matter is being investigated by the North West Hawks’ Serious Organised Crime Investigation. No arrests have been made at this stage,” he said.

The board had not responded to requests for comment at the time of publication.

DA MP Dave Bryant said the robbers managed to evade all the security and had easily located the vault keys.

“According to the information received by the DA, the perpetrators gained access to the North West Parks Board offices, where allegedly alarms were disabled, and security cameras in the passage were removed, allowing the thieves to execute their criminal activities unhindered,” he said.

He added that the police had taken more than eight hours to respond to the robbery.

North West police spokesperson Brigadier Sabata Mokgwabone said: “A case of business burglary has been opened and it is investigated by the [Hawks]. The allegations regarding delays to attend to the matter can only be responded to after investigation.”

Bryant said:

“It is now essential that all efforts are made to intercept the stolen horn before it leaves South Africa shores and catch those responsible.”

He said the theft highlighted the dire need for enhanced security measures to protect rhino stockpiles and called on Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Minister Barbara Creecy to “take immediate action”.

“It has been repeatedly stated that there is no pilfering of rhino horn stockpiles and this development has shown that this is certainly no longer the case.

“We call upon the minister to provide transparency on the incident, including a comprehensive account of the steps being taken to recover the stolen horns and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Bryant also called on Creecy to present a detailed plan outlining security measures for safeguarding rhino stockpiles across the country.

Department spokesperson Peter Mbelengwa said they had immediately notified the South African Revenue Service’ customs, so that they could alert their officials to be on the lookout for the possible illegal export of the stolen horns.

He added that the department was assisting in the investigation, “where necessary”.

“Minister Creecy strongly condemns this brazen crime and commits the department’s Green Scorpions to assist the police in whatever manner appropriate to bring the perpetrators to book.”

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