Rhino horn trader pleads guilty

2012-11-05 14:22

A Thai national accused of illegally trading and exporting rhino horn has pleaded guilty to all charges against him in the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court.

According to a statement read in court by advocate Terry Price, for Chumlong Lemthongthai, the man was aware he was acting unlawfully, contravening the Customs and Excise Act, and committing fraud.

He said he was sorry to all South Africans for his role in killing rhino in the country.

“I apologise to the court and to South Africans for my role in this matter.”

Lemthongthai is accused of exporting rhino horn to South East Asia.

He told the court he had lived and worked in Thailand and Laos, and was sent to South Africa in 2010 to enquire about purchasing lion bones.

He worked as an export and import agent at the time.

Lemthongthai was arrested last year and denied bail.

He had been in custody since then.

His co-accused Marnus Steyl also appeared in court today.

He was out on R100 000 bail.

A witness who took the stand shortly after Lemthongthai pleaded told the court rhino killings had increased since Lemthongthai arrived in the country.

Activist Miranda Jordan said South Africans wanted to see the justice system make an example of all rhino poachers.

The matter was expected to continue on Wednesday.

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