Cape Town ivory suspect gets R1m bail
Cape Town - A Chinese businessman accused of possessing and dealing in ivory, was released on bail of R1m by the Cape Town Magistrate's Court on Monday.
The SA Revenue Service (Sars) was also investigating Qi Lu, no age or address given, and more charges could be brought against him, said prosecutor Aradhana Heeramun.
She had asked the court to set bail at R2m, arguing that Qi was an affluent businessman who had been in South Africa for 10 years.
It would be "an absolute mockery" to set it at R100 000, as requested by defence attorney Zurena Abrahams, she said.
She submitted that although Qi had surrendered his Chinese passport to the police, this did not guarantee that he would attend his trial. False passports could be obtained with ease, and Qi was considered a flight risk.
Heeramun said crimes involving ivory were "extremely prevalent and sensitive".
"The accused can consider himself fortunate that the State has elected not to oppose bail," she said.
Heeramun told the court that Sars officials had found ivory products packed in boxes in a visit to Qi's warehouse.
A "controlled delivery" of ivory products had led the police to premises in Montague Gardens, where an unsuspecting Qi was waiting.
She said he was in business with another Chinese man, who was out of the country. A warrant had been authorised for his arrest on his return.
Abrahams submitted that Lu only had R100 000 available, and that he intended to plead not guilty.
"My client will stand trial to prove his innocence," she said.
Qi appeared before Magistrate Jasthree Steyn, who postponed the case to May 16.