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News > World

South Africa: Rhino-Horn Smugglers Thrive Amid Bribes to Court

  • Rhinos are seen on a game farm in the Waterberg district, South Africa.

    Rhinos are seen on a game farm in the Waterberg district, South Africa. | Photo: EFE

Published 15 August 2018
Opinion

Suspected rhino-horn kingpin Dumisani Gwala has been implicated in Mr. Fresh's affidavit.

A whistle-blower has reported to the BBC that he served as a middleman between a court syndicate in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province and a group of rhino-horn smugglers.

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The informant, going by the pseudonym “Fresh” after his favorite DJ, claims to have received money paid to his uncle, attorney Welcome Ngwenya, from rhino-horn kingpins and distributed the funds to people working in the judiciary system.

Describing how he would deliver bribes for his uncle, Mr. Fresh said, “I would give money to most of his friends, and most of his friends are magistrates, lawyers, prosecutors.”

"If you want your case to be withdrawn or if you want everything just to disappear you just go to him."

Mr. Fresh passed a lie-detector test, and his affidavit has been cross-checked by police investigators who feel his accusations are "serious and need investigating," according to BBC.

Suspected rhino-horn kingpin Dumisani Gwala has been implicated in Mr. Fresh's statements. Mr. Fresh said Ngwenya accepted cash from him, which was later paid to a magistrate to avoid conviction.

Gwala was detained by police while possessing a rhino horn and gun. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of dealing in protected wildlife parts, according to the BBC. When confronted outside of the courtroom, Gwala and his lawyer, Mpume Linda, declined to respond to allegations of bribery.

However, investigators, using details provided by other informants, suggest that rhino killers are beyond the reach of the law due to a court syndicate protecting their activities.

With just 25,000 rhinos left in the wild, approximately 1,000 are killed each year for their horns. Exceeding the value of cocaine by weight, traffickers go to great lengths to smuggle rhino horns out of Africa.

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