Sep 25, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

‘Art, coffee beans, live plants’: How syndicates ‘declare’ rhino horn at OR Tambo International Airport

The South African Treasury (Sars) has observed increased attempts to smuggle rhino horn out of the country via OR Tambo International Airport over the past year, using various false declarations to hide the horns.

< p >Some of the intercepted contraband was tagged as “fine art”, “coffee beans” and “living plants”.

In the most recent incident last Thursday, the Sars Customs Unit, working with the police, thwarted an attempt to smuggling out rhino horn, with 17 items weighing 25kg seized.

Sars said its customs unit at the airport received information about the suspicious baggage.

“The customs team responded with dispatch officers to the baggage area where the baggage was scanned and images were uncovered. Two bags wrapped in plastic were taken to the Customs screening area where the bags were rescanned and searched.”

The inspection found 17 pieces of rhinoceros. The passenger and goods were handed over to the International Police Station for further investigation.

Sars said that between July 2020 and April 2022, 137 pieces of rhinoceros weighing 482 kg were discovered through profiling and information sharing networks.

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In April 2022, 12 pieces of rhino horn weighing 30.7 kg were confiscated.

In December 2021, six pieces of rhino horn weighing 4 kg were confiscated, declared as “personal effects”.

In the same month, the team confiscated five rhino horns weighing 10 kg and declared them as “scanners”.

In July 2021, 32 Rhino horns seized weighing 160 kg declared as “live plants”.

In February last year, 18 pieces of rhino horn weighing 63 kg were confiscated and declared as “developers of HP cartridges”.

The Sars team found 17 pieces of rhino horn in December 2020 em weighing 72.4 kg hidden in a geyser.

Another six pieces weighing 4.9 kg declared as “coffee beans” were confiscated in September 2020.


The big The first consignment of rhino horn, consisting of 41 pieces weighing 137 kg, which were declared “fine arts”, was confiscated in July 2020.

SARS- Commissioner Edward Kieswetter commended the customs officers’ cooperation with the police to curb these crimes.

“It is clear that criminals have become more brazen about smuggling, particularly rhino horn.

” Our message to these criminal syndicates must be clear that we will spare no effort in fighting and dealing with them. Our future generation deserves to see the national legacy of our wildlife,” said Kieswetter.

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