Rhino horn boss's bail decision postponed

2011-08-31 17:00

Johannesburg - The bail decision for the alleged leader of a rhino poaching syndicate would be announced on Thursday, the SA Revenue Service said.

"The bail application will continue tomorrow at 09:00.... [It was] postponed for the magistrate to read the documents," said spokesperson Adrian Lackay on Wednesday.

Chumlong Lemtongthai, 43, appeared on Wednesday in Kempton Park Magistrate's Court. He last appeared in court on July 22.

National Prosecuting Authority prosecutor Allen Simpson said that invoices from Lemtongthai's company, Xaysavang Trading Export Import, should be taken as part of the charge sheet.

The amounts reflected on the invoices indicated there was a monetary offence involved and therefore it should be seen as a schedule five offence. Schedule five offences require that evidence be presented to support the bail application.


Lemtongthai was arrested after John Olivier, a Thai Airways manager who allegedly worked with the syndicate, decided to inform authorities of the syndicate's activities.

Olivier told police that a game farmer, Marnus Steyl, would apparently source rhinos for "canned hunting", then inform Lemtongthai.

Steyl told Beeld that his role was entirely above board.

Lemtongthai then allegedly contacted Punpitak Chunchom, telling him that "hunters" were needed to shoot these rhino.

Chunchom - who has since left South Africa after pleading guilty to illegal possession of lion bones - would recruit Thai strippers and prostitutes to pose with the rhino carcasses.

Lemtongthai allegedly organised permits and covered the costs of the operation.

R65 000 per kilogram

The horns would be dried and 'sold' to front company Xaysavang Trading Export Import - owned by Lemtongthai - for about R65 000 per kilogram. They would then be sold on the Asian black market for between US$35 000 (about R247 900) and US$55 000 (about R389 600).

By this method, loopholes in legislation allowing 'trophy hunting' and regulations limiting hunting to one rhino a year per hunter were exploited to supply rhino horns.

Lackay said it was this aspect of the case that concerned Sars.

Lemtongthai was the only member of the alleged syndicate to be charged.

Gender and environmental activists gathered at the court ahead of Lemtongthai's bail application.

The ANC Women's League displayed placards reading "Real Men Don't Shoot Rhinos".

They wore green tape over their mouths in protest against the role Thai prostitutes were allegedly forced to play in the syndicate's activities.

An animal rights group held up gory pictures of butchered rhino carcasses.

  • Daveza - 2011-08-31 17:21

    They are seriously considering giving this scumbag bail ?! Let the rhino's give him a good stomping then cut his horn off.

      Succubus - 2011-08-31 17:44

      It will be my pleasure! I have a dungeon, and a collection of knives. The blunt ones are my favorite for this purpose.

  • Photojockey - 2011-08-31 17:30

    It is a total disgrace that this this pimp will be, in all likelihood, granted bail for a paltry amount of R10000 bail only to skip the country. It is also a disgrace that the Government has not introduced legislation to totally ban the shooting of rhinos for any purpose. Perhaps there are covert interests within government that benefit from the illegal trade???

  • shortfinal - 2011-08-31 17:38

    Every cause needs a champion! Everywhere we look and read concerned SA citizens are venting their anger and frustration at the slaughter of Rhinos going on in SA. Seems that we are rather leaderless when it comes to finding a champion for the cause. It appears that we need to get more, much more.. international attention drawn to the plight of the Rhino. Considering that Rhinos are the property of every South African citizen and our children and their children every South African should have no hesitation in taking a very strong and passionate stand as to ensuring survival of the species. The thought that comes to mind is why can’t the rhinos cousin, the Springbok, cheer a bit for the cause. On international Rhino day 22 Sept, the Springboks are playing against Namibia in the Rugby world cup. Both these countries are custodians of the Rhinos, no doubt about it! Imagine the Springbok team running on the rugby field with black “mourn” armbands in respect of all the rhinos killed and those still to die! Millions of people around the world will be made aware off the cause and it will perhaps be a small step forward in creating global awareness! Perhaps both teams can do the same! Just imagine if some yellow man in the east somewhere decides that Springbok horn is now the real thing before Viagra and suddenly the Springbok is threatened with extinction. Would all be involved to save it? The Rhino needs a champion!!

      Guy - 2011-08-31 21:43

      You make a great point, but in the larger scheme of things you've missed another huge tradgedy. Namibians are responsible for the largest mass slaughter of wildlife on the planet with their annual Seal Slaughter of over 80 000 nursing seal pups. Instead, the Springboks should be refusing to play against Namibia as well as wearing black arm bands for the Rhinos. Imagine the impact that would have!

  • Oncall - 2011-08-31 17:57

    We need to maintain the independence of the judicary. We still need to respect the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. If the Magistrate grants bail it will surely be taken into consideration the flight risk. Yes on the face of it might be seen clear cut and we have lynch mobs baying for blood, but let the State prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt in a fair trial before sending him to C-Max for the rest of his life.

  • Christo - 2011-08-31 19:25

    Love is like a rhino,short-sighted and hasty; if it cannot find a way, it will make a way.

  • sam.swanpoel - 2011-11-04 11:52

    The reason these low life creatures use the horn is because they cannot see their normal horns. I plead do not consider bail for that piece of dogsh-t.

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