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Dawie Groenewald walks again after Interpol arrests alleged fake hunt organiser and alleged illegal supplier of rhino horn to Vietnam

June 28, 2017

Seven years since he was arrested on nearly 2000 charges Dawie Groenewald stands at the Pretoria High Court during his postponement hearing along with the other co-accused. Photo with permission Susan Scott and STROOP

Following Interpol’s arrest of alleged rhino poaching syndicate leader Dawie Groenewald in South Africa, exactly a week after Groenewald’s South Africa’s case was postponed to 2018, Groenewald was granted bail and released from police custody.

At Groenewald’s  appearance in court in Polokwane Interpol unsuccessfully opposed his bail application. The case was postponed until January 29th, 2018.

The US indictment, issued in 2014, charges Dawie and Janneman Groenewald, and their company Valinor Trading CC (Out of Africa Adventurous Safaris) with conspiracy, Lacey Act violations, mail fraud, money laundering and structuring bank deposits to avoid reporting requirements, News 24 reported.
Dawie, his wife Sariette, and nine others, including two vets and professional hunters, had been arrested on World Rhino Day, September 2010, on 1872 charges, but have managed to stave off prosecution for seven years since their arrest.

Authorities had excavated the carcasses of 26 rhinos they alleged were illegally hunted and dehorned without permits.

The spokesperson for the South Africa’s organised crime police, the Hawks, Brigadier Mulaudzi said Interpol’s extradition charges related to the state’s case.

“They [Interpol] are extremely confident. The criminal court case here will still continue, but it will depend on the Department of Justice, Interpol and the NPA to establish which cases they will prioritise,” Mulaudzi said.

The illegal demand for rhino horn in Vietnam and China has put pressure on South Africa’s courts and enforcement in a country that is struggling with corruption, poverty, violent crimes and robberies.

It has also put pressure on Vietnam’s enforcement agencies amid calls from NGOs for government action and international criticism of shortfalls in Vietnam’s enforcement of anti illegal wildlife trade laws that are in place.

The Lacey Act is the US’ oldest criminal statute addressing illegal poaching and wildlife trafficking, making it a crime to sell animal hunts conducted in violation of state, federal, tribal and foreign law.
Details of the charges laid in 2010 are: Nine American hunters paid up to $15 000 (R650 000) per animal for a total of 11 hunts sold at hunting conventions and gun shows in the United States between 2005 and 2010.

The hunters were tricked by the Groenewalds into believing they were shooting legally at “problem” rhino. The Groenewalds obtained no hunting permits from the South African or local government, and the hunters never received the horn “trophies”, the indictment said.

For more on Simon Bloch‘s breaking story:


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