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South Africa denies approving international trade in Rhino Horns

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- The South African government on Monday denied reports that it has approved international trade in rhino horns.

"The commercial international trade in rhino horn is and remains prohibited in terms of all international protocols that South Africa is party to, particularly the Convention on International Trade in Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES)," the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) said.

This came after a South African private game rancher used social websites to advertise an online auction of rhino horns, sparking concern that this could undermine the 40-year-old international ban on rhino horn trading.

The DEA would like to emphasize that international trade in rhino horns would be illegal in terms of domestic regulations and South Africa’s international obligations, said DEA spokesperson Albi Modise.

South African rhino breeder John Hume is planning to sell part of his massive stockpile of rhino horns in a global online auction, scheduled for August 21.

Hume won a series of court battles earlier this year to overturn the eight-year-old moratorium on the domestic sale of rhino horns.

Although a Constitutional Court order on April 5 this year set aside the moratorium on the domestic trade in rhino horns, the domestic trade in rhino horns is subject to the issuing of the relevant permits in terms of the relevant laws, regulations and applicable provincial legislation in order to be able to trade nationally, according to Modise.

"The planned sale of rhino horn by private rhino owners relates to domestic trade only," Modise said.

The DEA can confirm that it has received an application to sell rhino horn by means of an online rhino auction from a private owner and is in a process of evaluating the application in line with the provisions of the Threatened or Protected Species Regulations, Modise said.

"In terms of the auction, it should be noted that national regulations and legislation with regard to the domestic commercial trade in rhino horn will have to be complied with.

"This means that the buyers and the seller would have to abide by all laws applicable within the borders of South Africa," Modise added.

The South African government and the DEA remain committed to a well-regulated process implementing its domestic legislation, as well as all CITES provisions, to manage the trade in endangered species, such as rhino, in a manner that is not detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild, Modise noted.

South Africa, home to about 90 percent of the world’s rhino population, bears the brunt of rhino poaching, loosing 1,175 rhinos to poaching in 2015.

The government introduced the moratorium on rhino horn trade eight years ago to curb rhino poaching.

But private ranchers say that the moratorium has failed to stop the scourge, and therefore should be lifted.


Human Rights Commission condemns police minister’s remarks on foreigners

JOHANNESBURG South Africa(Xinhua) -- The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) condemned the remarks made by the Deputy Minister of Police, Bongani Mkongi on Monday which they said have a potential to ignite anti-immigrant sentiments.

Mkongi, last Friday accused foreigners of economic sabotage, hijacking buildings and occupying 80 percent of buildings in Hillbrow. He said the future president of South Africa could be a foreigner if foreigners continue to dominate the country.

The Human Rights Commission said the statement is xenophobic and encouraged leaders to refrain from such utterances.

"The SAHRC strongly condemns the irresponsible utterances by the Deputy Minister of Police, Bongani Mkongi. The SAHRC is of the view that statements such as this have the potential of fueling anti-immigrant sentiments and is in fact xenophobic," said the Commission in a statement.

There have been xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals this year in Johannesburg, Pretoria and other parts of the country.

The Commission said it is unfortunate that Mkongi said this in such context.

"Not only are the statements factually incorrect, they also unjustifiably ascribe crime to foreign nationals as an undifferentiated group.

The SAHRC calls on all individuals to exercise caution when addressing the public so as to not instigate xenophobic violence," said the commission.

They encouraged leaders to constructively shape public debate and social cohesion through evidence-based statements.

The SAHRC said repeating stereotypes does not advance the goals of upholding the fundamental rights of all in society.

The SAHRC is currently investigating if the statements by the Police Minister Fikile Mbalula that Zimbabwean ex-soldiers are responsible for violent crimes in the country amounts to a hate speech.

Another traditional leader, Goodwill Zwelithini was investigated after he said foreigners should pack their bags and leave the country and not overcrowd the streets.

The Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba is also being investigated by the SAHRC for accusing undocumented immigrants for crimes in the city.



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