NPA obtains preservation order for 2921 donkey hides

2017-05-10 20:22
(File, Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(File, Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Pretoria - The Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has obtained a preservation order for donkey hides with an estimated value of R4 381 500.

The order was obtained on Wednesday for 2921 hides.

Police recovered the hides before they were going to be shipped to China.

“The AFU obtained the order on the basis that the container represents an instrumentality of an offence whilst the hides represent the proceeds of stock theft perpetrated against persons unknown to the state as well as the contravention of section 7 of the Meat Safety Act,” spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku said.

During the last few years the sale of donkey hides has become highly profitable.  

In February GroundUp reported that surging demand and a shortage of donkeys in China have led, in the last few years, to donkeys being stolen and killed in the country and then their hides are shipped to China.

“It is currently legal to export donkey hides from South Africa but only if the donkey was first sold by the legitimate owner. The only legal way to slaughter a donkey to obtain its skin for export is via a registered abattoir,” Mfaku said.

GroundUp in February also reported that gelatin from donkey hides is used to manufacture a traditional Chinese medicine called ejiao. Prescribed for treating anaemia, sleeplessness and excessive menstrual bleeding, among other ailments, ejiao sells for up to R5 000 per kg.

Mfaku said there were only three legally registered equine abattoirs in the country.

In January, Captain Ockert van der Walt of the Cullinan Stock Theft Unit received information that illegal donkey hides were dried and kept at a plot in Benoni.

False invoices

He found several hides in a shed and was told that more donkey hides were kept in a nearby locked container.

Mfaku said while Van der Walt was at the plot, a truck with an empty container arrived, which was contracted to transport the hides to Johannesburg and then to Durban.

He later obtained a search warrant and found 2921 hides at the plot. They were seized and taken to the Cullinan Stock Theft Unit.

Mfaku said after investigations, they found that a company called Anatic Trading (Pty) Ltd had instructed the shipping and that false invoices were given to account for the possession of the hides.

According to Mfaku the invoices received only accounted for the purchase of 133 donkeys, which left the origin of 2788 donkey hides unexplained.

“It is the State’s case that the only reasonable inference that can be drawn from the lack of documentation is that the remaining 2788 donkey hides, if not all, were illegally acquired or stolen, which is a contravention of the Stock Theft Act.”

Van der Walt obtained statements from two of the three registered equine abattoirs. Both Middelvlei and Vaalbank Abattoirs denied that the hides belonged to them.

He said Van der Walt then obtained shipping invoices of previous shipments for hides from Anatic Trading.

Anatic Trading shipped a total of 12 776 donkey hides to Hong Kong between July and December 2016.

The 2921 donkeys seized at the plot in Benoni brought the total to 15 697.

The State estimated that at most only 10 500 donkey skins may be traded legally in the country per year.

“It is submitted by the State that the container represents an instrumentality of an offence whilst the hides represent the proceeds of stock theft perpetrated against persons unknown to the state as well as the contravention of section 7 of the Meat Safety Act.”

Note: This story has been updated.

Read more on:    animals

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