Two men were arrested for the illegal possession and selling of Rhino horns, valued at R2.6 million according to the Mail & Guardian. This was no ordinary arrest either, in that one of the men arrested was none other than alleged ‘Rhino kingpin’- Dawie Groenewald, who you might recall from 2010 as his name splashed across headlines for the worst reasons.
The latest operation saw the Hawks’ Organised Crime Investigation Unit, Wildlife Trafficking Counter-intelligence, and the private sector teaming up to snatch the treasured arrest, according to Lowvelder.
The Hawks’ Col Katlego Mogale notes the arrest was made in a multidisciplinary operation to combat wildlife trafficking in Mbombela, something which the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has been urging focus toward instead of poachers alone.
Alongside Groenwald saw businessman AB Steyn facing the music of the law. However more pertinently, the focus has been shifted to Groenewald as speculations consider whether he will jump the law through postponements again, as Daily Maverick reminds he has done “for more than a decade.”
In 2010 Groenewald was arrested in the ‘success’ of Project Cruiser, alongside 9-co accused including his wife “after 20 rhino carcasses were excavated at his Musina farm,” Daily Maverick reminds. This arrest happened to take place on World Rhino Day. Groenewald was accused of being the mastermind behind one of our country’s largest rhino poaching syndicates.
However, the trial stretched painfully and faced postponement after postponement. In 2014 the US Department of Justice appealed to have Groenewald and his brother Janneman, extradited on mass criminal charges that extended to money laundering.
One reason for the postponements was akin to the prosecution awaiting a Constitutional Court ruling that would lift SA’s moratorium on domestic trade in rhino horn. 60 charges were dropped.
In a separate matter in 2014, as part of a Czech rhino poaching syndicate, 16 people faced arrest. However, as per Eyewitness News, Groenewald denied any ties. In 2017, Groenewald and his brother’s extradition was blocked.
After further delays of the same High Court trial, 2018 saw Judge Bert Bam in the Pretoria High Court demand knowledge as to why the case had “been dragging its heels” for so long. Groenewald was arrested that year for an alleged fake sale of buffaloes, and then granted a five-year suspended sentence.
The trial ended up being set for March, but Covid set another postponement. Eventually, the accused went out on bail for the High Court Case. In February Groenewald and a co-accused were arrested in ties to the attempted smuggling of 19 additional rhino horns.
AB Steyn, a surprising spanner in the works.
Steyn is the owner of AB Steyn Safaris, and his arrest was somewhat surprising according to Bossies Community Justice founder Albert Grybenstein in speaking to Mail and Gaurdian.