Lentswe, Klerksdorp - In a major breakthrough in the illegal trade of endangered wildlife products, the police busted six Chinese nationals outside Klerksdorp. Three South Africans were also arrested in the bust.
The operation based on intelligence was conducted by the Hawks’ North West Serious Organised Crime Unit assisted by Crime Intelligence, Klerksdorp TRT, and Potchefstroom Flying Squad. With the help of the Department of Nature and Conservation the syndicate’s convoy was intercepted at the intersection to Dominionville on the N12. The two vehicles were driving in a convoy allegedly heading to an unused farm in Mareetsane.
According to the Hawks provincial spokesperson, Capt Tlangelani Rikhotso, a search of both vehicles revealed a whole cache of lion bones, lion meat, a tiger skin, gas cylinders, gas burners, containers, a saw, knives and other equipment which is believed to have been used to process the lion bones.
“The suspects took the team to another farm approximately 30km from Klerksdorp where the lions were allegedly slaughtered. At the farm, a lion skin was found dumped in the bush and large machines which are believed to have been the instruments for cutting the bones were also found in the garage,” Capt Rikhotso told Lentswe.
Louis Fouche (22), Lourens Pretorius (24), Mguyel Huu Son (30), Tuan (33), Dao Chanh (38), Pham Khur (56), Chanh (56) and Quol Thang (60) were arrested on Sunday 25 November. During their appearance in the Klerksdorp Magistrate Court, Michael Frederich Fourie (42), the man who is currently renting the farm where the lions were allegedly slaughtered handed himself to the police.
Fourie joined the eight accused in court to face charges of illegal possession of game products and without a permit, carrying out restricted activities involving a specimen of a listed, threatened or protected species.
The matter was postponed to Wednesday 5 December for a formal bail application and the suspects were remanded in custody.