In the largest asset seizure ever linked to rhino poaching in South Africa, the state yesterday froze R55-million worth of assets, most belonging to suspected rhino kingpin Dawid Groenewald.
Groenewald and two veterinarians, Karel Toet and Manie du Plessis, face 1872 charges of racketeering relating to their alleged involvement in the illegal sale of rhino horns and money-laundering.
Groenewald is alleged to be the head of a syndicate that bought rhino from 2006 to 2010 with the purpose of dehorning the animals.
Groenewald, through his lawyer, previously denied the poaching kingpin allegations.
Eight other people, including Groenewald’s wife, face charges of being involved in the syndicate and some of their assets have also been seized.
criminal trial imminent
National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Mtunzi Mhaga said there was reasonable proof that the suspects “had amassed their money and assets from the illegal activities”. Though their criminal trial resumes in October, all of their assets are effectively frozen until the outcome. If the suspects are convicted, the proceeds of the sale of the assets will be used to combat crime, according to the police’s Colonel Vish Naidoo.
Among the Groenewald assets seized are:
- Two helicopters;
- Two houses, in Polokwane and Modimolle;
- Two neighbouring farms in Musina; total area 4300ha;
- At least five bakkies;
- A number of chalets on the Musina farms; and
- At least three cars, including a Mercedes-Benz and a BMW.
When police raided Groenewald’s Musina farm two years ago they found 19 rhino skulls and 26 dehorned rhino. The NPA alleges that 39 rhinos were dehorned on Groenewald’s farm. He and Toet are also accused of dehorning 25 rhinos on eight other farms.
“Initially Groenewald sold the carcasses to a butcher. When he would no longer buy them, [he] resorted to having the rhino buried on the farm,” said Mhaga.
By Katharine Child. Source: Times Live
Rhino horns. [Image by: BOBBY YIP / REUTERS]