Hoarded rhinoceros horns stolen from vault

Henry

A total of 51 rhino horns were stolen from a safe at the North-West Parks Board’s head office in Mafikeng on Monday morning.

The miscreants evaded security guards and also got hold of the safe keys to simply unlock it and loot the hoarded rhinoceros horns.

Brig. Sabata Mokgwabone, police spokesperson, says a case of theft on a business premises has been filed and is being investigated by the Hawks.

Dave Bryant, the DA’s spokesperson on forestry, fisheries and the environment, says it is hard to believe that the crime could have been committed without the information and help of those in the office.

According to information received by the DA, the thieves gained access to the office where the alarm system was apparently switched off and security cameras in the corridor were removed.

‚ÄúThis enabled the thieves to continue their crime unhindered. It also took the police a shocking eight hours to arrive at the scene, which gave the criminals more than enough time to escape,” says Bryant.

The DA is now asking that park board staff undergo polygraph tests as a matter of urgency and says the theft is an excellent example of why it is justified.

When asked about the police’s alleged response time, Mokgwabane said the reason for any delays would only be known after the investigation.

The DA says all efforts must now be made to track down the horns before they leave the country and make those responsible for the theft pay.

“We appeal to Barbara Creecy, Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, to ensure transparency about the incident. This should include comprehensive feedback on the steps taken to recover the stolen horns and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Of the 51 rhino horns that were stolen, 14 were from wild animals, while the rest came from dehorning operations.

“This incident not only represents the loss of these magnificent creatures, but also highlights the urgent need for improved security measures to safeguard stockpiled rhino horn.”

Bryant says this should include strict security protocols, advanced alarm systems, more staff and strict monitoring.

“Rhinos are an iconic and endangered species that play an important role in maintaining the balance of our ecosystems. The loss of 51 rhino horns represents a devastating blow to conservation efforts and wildlife conservation as a whole.

“We must act quickly and decisively to prevent such incidents from happening again in the future and must ensure the future of these wonderful creatures.”