MEC must investigate MTPA rhino horn theft

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

Mpumalanga economic development, environment and tourism MEC Yvonne Phosa must launch a high-level investigation into the theft of 40 rhino horns from the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA).

The theft occurred despite reports that the MTPA had been warned about being a target more than four years ago, and following an internal investigation, absolved inidividuals accused of having ties to smuggling syndicates.

The fact is that word of the stock-piles existence has spread in recent times, making the MTPA a sitting duck. Given that the MTPA is unable to manage its fixed and movable assets, Mpumalanga’s parks and wildlife, and its finances – it was only a matter of time before its stockpiles were targeted.

The question is how seriously the MTPA took keeping the rhino horn safe, and what measures it had in place when the theft occurred. While the criminal investigations must take its full course, the MEC must determine what happened and ensure that a departmental finding on the allegations of the heist being an “inside job” is made.

Any MTPA official that is found to have – even remotely – assisted in the execution of the heist, must be fired and face the full might of the law.

The DA will write to MEC Phosa requesting her to launch this investigation as a matter of urgency, and considering that she will be leaving the Provincial Legislature after 7 May, she must ensure that the new MEC is properly briefed on the matter to ensure consistency in the investigation.

We simply cannot allow that a change of political leadership sees this serious incident swept under the carpet.