Last week, information surfaced around another police officer being detained after allegedly being involved in rhino poaching. This news only became public a few days ago, on the day of his bail hearing.

Constable Size Buthelezi, 36, a highly-trained policeman from an elite police unit, was found in possession of rhino horn. He is being charged with unlawful possession of ammunition, firearms and a protected endangered species ( rhino horn).  The culprit was caught red-handed at KwaZulu Natal’s popular game reserve, iMfolozi, on October 11.

Details were initially blurry and nothing had been shared with the media. Finally, the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure released a statement about the case.

During Constable Buthelezi’s bail application, on October 22, he was released from custody for a bail charge of R2000.

The court, not the NPA, have failed to answer any questions regarding this ‘light brushing off’ of a serious incident. This is not the first time the police force and other officials have been involved with or caught in rhino poaching.

“The South African Police Service will continue to root out corruption within its ranks as this scourge serves only to undermine the authority of the state. We also want to urge the people of South Africa to continue supporting the police in its efforts to bring down the scourge of crime, because together we can do more,” the police statement said.

Furthermore, the South African Police have not decided to immediately fire the employee, despite his crimes. It seems they have tried to keep the act under the covers and even underplay its seriousness.

Andrea Crosta, executive director and co-founder of the international NGO Elephant Action League (EAL) and founder of WildLeaks, said: “The South African government’s astonishing level of corruption, short-sightedness, and incompetence represent formidable obstacles to fighting the rhino poaching crisis and the international trafficking of rhino horn.

“The information that we have collected, and the inability to share it with trusted, capable, and powerful government officials in South Africa, is so overwhelming that it is challenging to express the sheer magnitude of the problem, and difficult to continue to have hope for the future.

“While there are also many honest rangers and government officials in South Africa, these individuals sometimes, with the help of a very small number of well-prepared NGOs, manage to hit those criminal networks and cause disruption of their operations, as very recent arrests show. Unfortunately, it is usually just a temporary disruption,” he said.

Although efforts remain high to prevent and mitigate rhino poaching in South Africa, the value of the asset incentivizes individuals within these organizations to act unlawfully. Police and security employed to protect these important and magnificent animals need to stay strong to the cause and resist temptation.

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