- On July 17th, 2021, Johannes (Dawie) Groenewald, known as one of South Africa’s rhino cartel leaders, was arrested with 19 rhino horn. He was in the company of Schalk Steyn (AB Steyn) who was also arrested. They have been charged with illegal possession and selling of the rhino horn. Two vehicles were seized.
- Both accused made bail nine days later for the equivalent of USD $3300. He is presently on organized crime and money laundering charges related to illegal rhino horn possession from 2010 that is still before the courts.
- It has been a bad week for rhino with 160 kg of horn seized at OR Tambo Airport (Johannesburg) on July 17th and a container of 138 kg of rhino horn and 3.3 tonnes of lion bones (from South Africa) seized in Da Nang, Vietnam, the next day.
Rhino ‘kingpin’ arrested again for dealing in horn
OUR BURNING PLANET
By Don Pinnock• 22 July 2021 The Daily Maverick
Dawie Groenewald has managed to stay out of jail after endless postponements of smuggling and racketeering cases against him. Could this be the last time?
One of South Africa’s most notorious alleged rhino syndicate bosses with a genius for staying out of jail, Dawie Groenewald was arrested this week, charged with the illegal possession and selling of rhino horns.
He was apprehended with his co-accused Schalk Steyn, in possession of 19 rhino horns with an estimated value of R2.6-million. Two Toyota Hilux bakkies were also seized.
Groenewald’s Zuma-style use of Stalingrad stalling tactics has kept him one jump ahead of the law for more than a decade. In 2010 he was arrested with nine co-accused, including his wife Sariette, after 20 rhino carcasses were excavated at his farm, Prachtig, following a 15-month investigation called Project Cruiser. Further investigations revealed the horns had been removed before the animals were buried.
The 10 faced 1,736 charges, including racketeering, organised crime, money laundering, illegal hunting of rhino and dealing in rhino horn. Since then trial date postponements have stacked up.
In 2014 the United States Department of Justice appealed to South Africa to extradite Groenewald and his brother, Janneman, to face criminal charges, including money laundering and violating environmental laws.
He was alleged to have solicited wealthy Americans to hunt rhinos at his farm in Musina and to have sourced rhino horns from other farmers for the illegal international black market. A Limpopo court refused the extradition order and his arrest by Interpol.
Groenewald was also linked to a Czech poaching syndicate operating between South Africa and Vietnam, but denied any knowledge of the outfit.
The postponements continued, one caused while the prosecution awaited a Constitutional Court ruling that finally confirmed the lifting of South Africa’s moratorium on domestic trade in rhino horn. The outcome was that the State dropped about 60 charges against the accused and an amended charge sheet was subsequently served on the group.
In 2018, the trial was postponed yet again, this time to 2021, though the prosecution at the time said it had been ready for more than a year to call its witnesses.
In February Judge Bert Bam in the Pretoria High Court demanded to know why the trial had been delayed for so long. “This case has been dragging its heels for very long. I want to know what the delays are and what is going to be done to streamline the process,” the judge said.
He demanded a detailed affidavit from the defence team, setting out what caused the delays. “I have no idea what is going on and it is very peculiar that this case is not moving forward. If I find that anyone has delayed this matter on purpose, I will consider making an appropriate order in that regard.”
The case was set for March, but it seems Covid intervened. The accused were out on bail when they were arrested in connection with an attempt to smuggle 19 more rhino horns.
Alleged rhino-horn kingpin and big game hunter arrested for possession of 19 rhino horns get bail
by Eunice Stoltz The Mail and Guardian
July 26th, 2021: The Nelspruit magistrate’s court has postponed the matter against alleged rhino-horn kingpin Johannes Groenewald, 53, and professional big game hunter Schalk Steyn,48, to 17 September after both were granted bail of R50 000 each on Friday.
The duo appeared in court after being arrested on Wednesday while allegedly transporting 19 rhino horns in two vehicles. They were charged with the illegal possession and selling of the horns, valued at R2.6-million
During their first appearance on Thursday, the matter was ruled to fall under the ambit of schedule 5 offences.
Schedule 5 offences include among others, treason, murder, corrupt activity involving amounts of more than R500 000 for an individual and R100 000 if it is alleged that the offence was committed by a person, group of persons or syndicate acting in common purpose or conspiracy. If convicted, a first offender under schedule 5 can face a minimum of 15 years imprisonment.
Steyn, better known as AB Steyn, and Groenewald, widely known as Dawie, did not physically appear in court as the premises were closed for Covid-19 decontamination.
Following consultation between the defence and the investigating officer, the court ruled that the accused could submit their affidavits at the police station “due to the difficult situation that we all find ourselves under,” National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson in Mpumalanga province, Monica Nyuswa told the Mail & Guardian.
The state did not oppose bail but asked that it be granted with certain conditions, including the accused submitting their passports to the police, reporting once a week at their nearest police station, not interfering with state witnesses and informing the investigating officers should they want to leave their respective provinces.
Groenewald is not a first time offender.
He has a pending case relating to similar charges against him and six others in Musina, the Hawks’ Colonel Katlego Mogale confirmed on Friday.
Groenewald, his wife, two veterinarians and professional hunters made headlines in 2010 when they were arrested after a 15-month investigation allegedly linking them to illegal rhino-poaching operations stretching over four years, the M&G reported on Friday.
After more than a decade the case is still ongoing at the Pretoria high court.