SINGAPORE: A man was charged on Thursday (Oct 6) with taking 34.25kg of African rhino horns into Singapore while on the way to Laos.
South African Gumede Sthembiso Joel, 32, was handed one charge under the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act of taking the horns from Johannesburg, South Africa, into Singapore without a valid export or re-export permit, licence, certificate or written permission by a South African authority.
Gumede allegedly took the horns with him from Johannesburg and was in transit in Singapore on the way to Vientiane, Laos at about noon on Oct 4 this year.
On Thursday, Gumede said he had no lawyer at the moment and was “pleading innocent”. He said he was unsure if he could raise bail.
The prosecutor said they would inform Gumede’s embassy of the case. He was offered bail of S$40,000 and will return to court on Oct 27.
According to a previous statement by the National Parks Board (NParks), airport security and NParks’ K9 unit detected and inspected two bags at Changi Airport. They found 34kg of rhino horns, estimated to be worth around S$1.2 million.
This is Singapore’s largest seizure of rhinoceros horns to date, said NParks.
If convicted, Gumede can be jailed for up to two years, fined up to S$50,000, or both.