Rhino horn worth millions seized at OR Tambo airport – again
SARS customs officials on Wednesday seized 28.7kg of rhino horn, worth R6 million from a foreign national.
For the second time in three days, rhino horn worth millions of rand has been found on passengers attempting to fly out of the country from OR Tambo International Airport.
Customs officials with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) on Wednesday seized 28.7kg of rhino horn, worth R6 million from a foreign national, SARS spokesperson Sandile Memela confirmed.
The horns were spotted in the traveller’s check-in luggage as it passed through the scanner.
“SARS officials found five rhino horns that had been coated with between one and two centimetres of hard wax, and wrapped in newspaper. The wax was obviously used to disguise the horns from the canine unit’s horn-sniffing dogs,” Memela said.
Captain Carol Mulamu, spokesperson for the South African Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (more popularly known as the Hawks) confirmed that a Vietnamese citizen was taken into custody and is scheduled to appear in the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court soon.
Wednesday’s arrest and seizure was the second one made at the airport in as many days. On Sunday, officials confiscated 10 horns, worth about R5 million from two Chinese nationals bound for Istanbul.
Bo Yong, 57, and Yue Sun, 35, were removed from a Turkish Airlines flight bound for the popular city in Turkey just before the plane could take off. Full-sized rhino horns were discovered in their bags in the plane’s cargo hold by customs agents. The pair were booked on a connecting flight from Istanbul to Hong Kong.
While on Tuesday in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, two Vietnamese nationals were detained at the Tan Son Nhat Airport after customs officials found nearly 4kg of rhino horn, with a Vietnamese street value of almost $352 000 (around R4.5 million) in their possession. The pair had just returned from a trip to Africa.
The Tien Phong newspaper reports that the man, 36, and woman, 32, were detained as customs officials had spotted them acting suspiciously.