Chumlong Lemtongthai appeal
South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal has reduced rhino horn trafficker Chumlong Lemtongthai’s 30 year jail sentence to 13 years and a R1-million fine. In his judgment on 25 September 2014, the acting deputy judge president, Mahomed Navsa, said that the “the sentence of 30 years imprisonment is too severe and induces a sense of shock”, adding, “It is disproportionate when compared to the minimum sentences statutorily prescribed for other serious offences. Thus, we are at large to interfere in the sentence.”
The Li Zhifei case file
A statement signed by Chinese antique dealer and rhino horn smuggler Li Zhifei on 17 December 2013 offers a fascinating insight into Chinese involvement in the global trade in rhino horn and Operation Crash, the US Fish and Wildlife Service investigation.
The State versus Dawie Groenewald
This affidavit, dated 22 March 2012, was drawn up by Colonel Johan Jooste, head of the Environmental Crime Unit in the police’s Directorate of Priority Crime Investigations, commonly known as the Hawks. It sets out the background of Project Cruiser, the codename for the police investigation into Groenewald, and details how the syndicate that Groenewald is accused of heading allegedly operated.
Markus Hofmeyr is in charge of the Kruger National Park’s veterinary wildlife service. In September 2010, following the arrest of Groenewald, Hofmeyr went to Groenewald’s farm, Prachtig. In this affidavit – which is expected to form part of the evidence against Groenewald – he described seeing the burnt carcasses of some rhino and live animals that had their horns cut to the quick, possibly with a chainsaw.
The indictment against Groenewald and his co-accused runs to more than 700 pages including schedules and witness lists. It is only available in Afrikaans.
In January 2010, several months before his arrest in South Africa, alleged rhino horn syndicate ‘mastermind’ Dawie Groenewald was detained in the United States and arraigned on charges of selling an illegal leopard hunt to a US sports hunter. A federal grand jury indicted him on charges of smuggling and infringements of the Lacey Act, the US wildlife statute. He later pled guilty, was sentenced to ‘time served’ and fined $30,000. Here are the court papers.
Operation Lock’s Secret
This is one of the operational reports compiled in June 1989 by Colonel Ian Crooke, the leader of Operation Lock, an ill-fated covert operation to combat rhino poaching and assassinate rhino horn dealers in Southern Africa. Crooke, a decorated SAS veteran led a team of British mercenaries to South Africa where they tried to infiltrate rhino smuggling rings. The operation was controversially funded by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands and sanctioned by the WWF. For more, read Chapters 4 and 5 in Killing for Profit.
The Kumleben Commission Report
In January 1996, Judge Mark Kumleben – the chairman of a commission of inquiry into the illegal trade in ivory and rhino horn in South Africa – released his report. It ran to more than 200 pages and, despite the dry legalese, read like a thriller. It found that the South African Defence Force had officially and covertly “participated in the illicit possession and transportation of ivory and rhino horn from Angola and Namibia” between 1978 and 1986.