Police have seized over R23m worth of rhino horn at OR Tambo International Airport on Thursday.
“The total weight of the horns was 116kg … at an approximate value of R23 200 000.00. The street value of these horns is assumed to be much higher,” South African Revenue Services’ Sicelo Mkosi said in a statement on Thursday.
The discovery was made during K9 searches at several cargo warehouses where export consignments were packed to be shipped out to Dubai.
Lieutenant Colonel Katlego Mogale said a K9 detector dog had reacted positively to a shipment destined for the Middle East.
“Upon physical examination the consignment was found to be containing door mats as well as cut and laminated ply wood. Further examination revealed over 30 pieces of rhino horn wrapped in plastic [and] concealed under the laminated wood pieces,” Mogale said in a statement.
Increased enforcement interventions on outbound flights at the cargo area of OR Tambo International Airport were implemented following reports of rhino horn in the Middle East detected to have come from southern Africa.
Mogale said the discovery was a culmination of efforts that form part of a revised strategy that had been implemented at the airport under the leadership of Major General Dimakatso Ndaba.
“The multi-disciplinary team at OR Tambo International Airport, which comprises of various government departments including members from various disciplines in the South African Police Service, customs and excise, ACSA (Airports Company South Africa) security and other stakeholders are on alert and continue to work tirelessly to stop contraband including rhino horns from being smuggled through this port of entry,” he said.