Three men appear for huge rhino horn bust

FILE PICTURE: Rhino horn. Picture: supplied

FILE PICTURE: Rhino horn. Picture: supplied

Despite being found with nearly 120 horns worth millions, the suspects were released on bail of R20k and 10k each.

Three men have appeared in the Pretoria Regional Court after they were found in possession of a huge number of rhino horns, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks) said on Sunday.

Hawks endangered species unit members arrested the three men for allegedly intending to sell rhino horns to an undercover agent, spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said.

The three, Pieter Van Zyl, 67, Marco Swanepoel, 35, and Stephan Mylie, 30, were arrested on Wednesday evening in Equestria, Pretoria, he said.

“It is alleged that the three intended to sell five rhino horns and, unaware, that it was a sting operation, they were then rounded up by the Hawks members.

“The trio were led to their hideout, Van Zyl’s house, where a further three rhino horns were found and seized. The eight horns are estimated to be worth more than R800 000.”

On Thursday, the team went back to the same house as part of their ongoing investigation and were stunned to find a massive haul of almost 105 rhino horns, the value of which was yet to be determined, Mulaudzi said.

Van Zyl, a well-known game farmer, alleged the rhino horns belonged to him. Despite that claim, the Hawks team was validating the alleged permits issued by the environmental affairs department and taking DNA samples of all the horns and comparing them to the Rhodis database at Onderstepoort.

The three men appeared in the Pretoria Regional Court on Friday. Van Zyl was granted R20 000 bail, while Swanepoel and Mylie were released on R10 000 bail each. The case was postponed to October 12 for further investigation, Mulaudzi said.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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