Chinese ivory accused must wait for bail
Cape Town - A case against two Chinese nationals accused of illegally possessing ivory was postponed to January 10 by the Cape Town Magistrate's Court on Thursday for a bail application.
Magistrate Jasthree Steyn also moved the case against Xing Xieny, 51, and Xiong Changsen, 41, to Khayelitsha Magistrate's Court, which specialises in matters of this nature.
The two, whose family members had waited in the corridors outside the court, have appointed a private lawyer to represent them.
The men were arrested after the Hawks received information from the public about a foul smell emanating from a luxury house and "strange activities" in a parking lot.
When the police investigated they found people cutting elephant tusks into small pieces - apparently to make jewellery.
When they appeared last week Xieny had refused to give his fingerprints to the police because he wanted to plead not guilty.
Xieny's refusal meant that the State was unable to determine whether he is in the country legally.
The wildlife trade monitoring organisation Traffic has meanwhile declared 2011 "annus horribilis" for African elephants.
It said 2011 had seen a record number of large ivory seizures globally, reflecting the sharp rise in the illegal ivory trade.
"Although official confirmation of the volume of ivory involved in some cases has not yet been registered, what is clear is the dramatic increase in the number of large-scale seizures over 800 kg in weight that have taken place in 2011 - at least 13 of them," Traffic spokesperson Richard Thomas said.
This compared to six large seizures in 2010, whose total weight was under 10 tonnes.
"A conservative estimate of the weight of ivory seized in the 13 largest seizures in 2011 puts the figure at more than 23 tonnes, a figure that probably represents some 2 500 elephants, possibly more," Thomas said.