Cape Town - The Minister of Environmental Affairs welcomes the sentencing of a Chinese national found guilty of smuggling rhino horn.
The Shuangshuang Xue, a 24-year-old woman, pleaded guilty to charges of rhino horn smuggling last week Thursday in the Kempton Park Regional Court. She has been given a four-year sentence.
She was arrested at OR Tambo International Airport while en-route from Zambia to Hong Kong in China. Security screening personnel discovered 14 pieces of rhino horn in her bag, weighing roughly 16kg, and she had no permit on her for the consignment.
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Forensics were performed on the rhino horn to determine any link to other investigations and where the horn originates. Though no link was traced to other poaching incidents and investigations, they did determine that the pieces come from five different white rhinos.
“The collaboration between law enforcement officials at the airport, in the investigation and subsequent judicial process, needs to be commended. It is only through such continued cooperation and collaboration that the battle against rhino poaching, being undertaken through the Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros Approach, will be won,” said Environment Minister Edna Molewa.
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Another Chinese national was also caught smuggling five rhino horns through the same airport on Friday, 8 September, and a 20-year sentence was handed down to a Mozambican national on poaching charges.
The latest stats show the more than 6 000 rhinos have been killed since poaching started more than a decade ago. Evidence also shows that criminal networks are starting to turn rhino horn into ready-made products like jewelry and powder to avoid detection at airports.
South Africa also recently held its first legal online horn auction in an attempt to raise funds for conservation, though it was met with harsh criticism.
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