A South African woman leaving the country for Dubai was snatched this week with 12 rhino horns in her luggage at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport, according to the SA Revenue Service (Sars).
Sars said they were responding to a tip when they stopped and searched them. The woman was taken aside in customs where officers asked to have her luggage searched.
“The two luggage bags and a crate were examined by a baggage scanner which identified irregular images believed to be rhino horn
“This led to a physical inspection of the luggage and the crate, in which 12 head of rhinoceros weighing 30.7 kg were found. The passenger and the rhino horns were handed over to the police, after which a criminal case was opened to investigate,” Sars said.
The Revenue Agency said it had made significant progress in stopping rhino horn smuggling in recent years.
“Between July 2020 and December 2021, a total of 125 pieces of rhinoceros weighing 452 kg were seized at OR Tambo International Airport.”
These had been hidden in a variety of ways, some as living plants were described, others were described as scanners, an HP cartridge developer, a geyser and even coffee beans, among other things.
Sars Commissioner Edward Kieswetter thanked the customs officials.
“We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to track down and prosecute these criminal syndicates and those violating the law. Sars and law enforcement will spare no effort to ensure they are held accountable,” he said.
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