Another arrest in rhino horn syndicate

2012-03-27 18:59

Johannesburg - The Hawks arrested a Thai national at Emperors Palace casino in Johannesburg on Tuesday on charges related to illicit rhino horn trading, the SA Revenue Service (Sars) said.

Spokesperson Adrian Lackay said the arrest followed an intensive investigation into the illicit trade in rhino horn internationally.

"The man was arrested at 14:00 today [Tuesday] carrying R21 000 in cash that was detained. He is believed to be the fourth suspect in a broad syndicate in the export of rhino horns out of the country," said Lackay.

"Two of the four suspects - Thai nationals Punpitak Chunchom and Chumlong Lemthongthai are still in police custody but Free State game farm owner Marnus Steyl is out on bail."

The man is expected to be formally charged on Wednesday when he would appear in the Kempton Park Magistrate's Court, said Lackay.

Lemthongthai, Chunchom and Steyl were arrested last year.

Steyl was granted R100 000 bail ahead of the trial in June. Chunchom and Lemthongthai remain in custody in separate prisons.

Steyl's farm was allegedly used by a syndicate to hunt rhinos, with Thai prostitutes and strippers posing as bogus rhino hunters.

Once the rhino was shot, the women would then be called to come and pose for photos with the carcasses.

Lemthingthai's company, Xaysavang Trading Export Import, is being charged R65 000 per kilogram of rhino horns.

A South African court found Chunchom guilty last year of smuggling animal products like lion bones into the country. He was fined R10 000.

Both he and Lemthongthai face charges of contravening the Customs and Excise Act, and fraud, according to the report.

It was believed 26 rhinos may have been shot by the syndicate using legal hunting permits.

  • bluzulu - 2012-03-27 19:11

    Hang him by his horn till it's removed.....Next.....

  • Bless Boswell - 2012-03-27 19:23

    What these people are doing is destroying the heritage of future South Africans. The punishments being meted out to them in no way portrays the seriousness of what they have done. Let the punishment fit the crime. Put them to death - that is more merciful than what they did.

  • Eric - 2012-03-27 19:29

    "R21 000 in cash that was detained"? How does one detain money? Did the cops read the money its rights? Bloody AA journalist! :(

  • cosmos.ndebele - 2012-03-27 19:32

    Pity S.A farmers seem to be extensively involved that earlier thought, It would be very difficult to win this battle against Rhino poaching!!!

      Tanie - 2012-03-27 21:23

      No cosmos, it will be easier if Malema was decriminalised.

  • les.cunningham1 - 2012-03-27 19:47

    Somany arrests, but what about the convictions and getting rid of the scum!!!!!!!

  • les.cunningham1 - 2012-03-27 19:51

    You are so right Eric, noticed that, but didn't comment. So many errors by the News24 reporters these days.

  • charmaine.mcdonald2 - 2012-03-27 20:47

    The cash that was detained! O'Lord My God, please give these people some education. These are God's Animals, they need to be treated with respect and love and compassion, they cannot speak, we are their voices. " Do unto these killers what they have done to the Rhinos. Shoot them! No Mercy. " Did they have mercy on the animals when they were to cruelly killing them"?

  • Tanie - 2012-03-27 21:21

    The hijackers and house breakers are dumb, they should know which market pays the best, obviously these rhino horn guys carries a lot of cash with them and they are easily identifiable, why not jackjack them a bit, maybe rhino's will live happily ever after.

  • Gideon - 2012-03-27 23:56

  • Gideon - 2012-03-27 23:57


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