Port checks failing poaching fight

2012-01-26 22:31

Cape Town - Port officials are not adequately checking wildlife shipments for illegal rhino horns, Parliament's environmental affairs committee heard on Thursday.

"All ports of entry are managed by home affairs, customs. Therefore we must assume, chair, that they are doing those things, the checking," environmental affairs deputy director general Fundisile Mketeni said.

"We want our own facility whereby we can say, we see your permit... we can open the consignment and close it. The department is collaborating with public works to secure a facility at OR Tambo International Airport and at a yet-to-be-identified seaport."

Mketeni said some officials wrongly accepted excuses or threats from travellers, meaning a consignment had left the country without proper inspection. Travellers often threatened to sue officials if they opened their boxes.

Committee chairperson Johnny de Lange said it was shocking that people were getting away with such acts.

"If that is true, I shudder to think what kind of port officials we have. If someone says, I'll sue you if you open this box, and you're the customs official who is supposed to check it and you don't do it... No wonder it's so easy to have so many rhino being killed because it's just going out of the country; there is no system in place."

De Lange said the system had flaws and should urgently be tightened.

Mketeni said the department was removing a loophole which people used by posing as hunters to get a permit and then taking a horn back home.

"Hunting of rhino by foreign clients, whose country of usual residence does not have adequate legislation to ensure that imported personal sport hunting trophies will remain in the possession of the hunter, should be stopped as soon as possible."

He said permits should not be issued to any country that could not control horns arriving from South Africa.

A total of 448 rhino were poached in 2011. In January this year, 28 rhino had been poached so far.

The department estimated that 398 rhino would be killed by the end of the year.

Most poaching arrests in 2011 took place at OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg and the Kruger National Park, in Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

  • colin.dovey - 2012-01-26 23:07

    Corruption and slack standards will yet destroy this lovely land.......

      procold2 - 2012-01-27 08:37

      who is the minister of home affairs, ZUMA= zero understanding of mokoko affairs.

  • Michele - 2012-01-26 23:24

    Not threats, just bribes.

      bernpm - 2012-01-27 12:22

      With some 10 years experience in the port of Rotterdam, you might be right. Bribing a port official is possible. Threatening a port official is far more dangerous. Just start a serious investigation on the lifestyle of the port officials involved in controls.

  • Polotic - 2012-01-26 23:38

    Can't the ANC government get anything right?

      bernpm - 2012-01-26 23:47

      In ANC is called a "process"

      talita.vandermerwe - 2012-01-27 05:34

      Agreed. Why a new department AGAIN? What happens to all the millions that employers pay over for skills development. The current port officials must be properly trained.

      bernpm - 2012-01-27 12:27

      Home Affairs was quick to close the Cape Town port of entrance for cruise ships and yachts. Not enough security under the new DA government of the province!!!

  • Heinrich - 2012-01-27 05:56

    And the same goes for scrap metal. Politics : "Yes, we can!" But we don't want to. We're making too much money.

  • Michael - 2012-01-27 05:59

    Port officials only care if it's something they can steel. See how good they are if it's a shipment of alcohol

  • Sean - 2012-01-27 07:11

    After all these years the Government only "realizes" this now!? FFS catch a wake up how else do you think that these rhinohorns are leaving the country. like I have continuously steted, the wool is being pulled over our eyes!!!! If the USA can ope our bags when travelling there after changing their policies and forcing travellers to purchase special locks for our bagge to be searched, why the hell are we so slow in changing the law here too?? This Government does not fail to surprise me anymore!!!!!!!!!!!!! All current casess in parliament should be placed on the back burner with immediate effect and this situation must get top priority!

  • Gogs Lombard - 2012-01-27 07:22

    Firmly believe that senior government officials are deeply involved in the poaching of our wildlife. If they can allow our kids to leave school with zero skills and patients to go unfed in hospitals, how can we expect them to care for our wildlife?

      Helen - 2012-01-27 12:17

      Well said, Gogs. The sad fact is that the creatures now in charge are and always have been incompetent.

  • Henri James Christie - 2012-01-27 07:23

    Just wondering, if I threaten to sue SARS if they check my financial records, will I not have to pay tax????

  • eben.ferreira1 - 2012-01-27 07:43

    What stumps me completely is: Why are they still issuing permits to hunt rhino. License to kill with proven loopholes for exploitation. Why not stop this Mr. De Lange?

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