TOWN (Xinhua) -- Thieves
broke into a secure safe in Mpumalanga Province over the Easter
weekend, stealing 112 rhino horns, with a total weight of 80,135
kilograms, the largest theft of this kind in years, authorities
confirmed on Wednesday.
pieces stolen were kept in storage for purposes of registering
them, record keeping and later move them to another secure
location where a bulk of stock is kept,the Mpumalanga Tourism
and Parks Agency (MTPA) said.
of the horns on the MTPA premises were micro-chipped, DNA-
sampled and photographed according to the National Norms and
Standards dated April 10, 2012 No 53248, while others were still
being processed, MTPA spokeswoman Kholofelo Nkambule said.
burglars gained access to the storage through an office window.
They then cut open a strong room in this office before entering
the storage, according to Nkambule.
are working closely with the South African Police Service on
the matter to ensure that arrests are made. We will continue
to look at all possible leads, both internally and externally,
to ensure that the criminals are apprehended,” she said.
special anti-crime unit, Hawks, has launched an investigation
into the theft.
spokesperson Captain Paul Ramoloko said they suspect a syndicate
was involved in the theft.
believe this is a syndicate, which we are going to pounce on
soon. We have already completed the crime scene forensic
investigations,” said Ramoloko.
said this is not a normal housebreaking and theft because
millions are involved.
60,000 U.S. dollars per kilogram, rhino horn rivals the street
value of cocaine, and is almost double the value of gold (about
32,000 dollars a kilogram).
theft came as rhino poaching continued unabated in South Africa.
Latest official statistics showed that since 2008, more than
2,000 rhino have been poached in South Africa, with 1,004 rhino
being killed for their horns during 2013. Since the start of
2014, 294 rhino have been poached.
syndicates are believed to be behind growing rhino poaching,
fueled by demand for rhino horns which are said to cure all
diseases, notably cancer, although there is no scientific
evidence to prove this.