POLICE in Namibia, Angola and South Africa are investigating an international dog-smuggling syndicate after two vehicles transporting dogs stolen in South Africa were spotted in northern Namibia on their way to Angola.
The two vehicles were also reported stolen in South Africa.
The Namibia Animal Awareness group on Facebook yesterday said that the South African police were investigating a suspected syndicate reportedly operated by Angolans. These suspect smugglers are accused of stealing purebred dogs in Namibia and South Africa for the Angolan market, where pedigree dogs are in demand as fashion accessories, for breeding purposes, and as guard dogs on farms.
It is alleged that these dogs are sold at astonishing prices of no less than US$5 000 each.
Concerned and alert members of the public yesterday claimed that a yellow Bantam bakkie carrying 10 dogs was spotted at the Oshikango border post between Namibia and Angola.
They said the bakkie, with three men inside, one sporting a Rasta hairstyle, was transporting Huskies, Ridgebacks, Rottweilers and Boerboels. Two German shepherd puppies were found squeezed in behind the driver's seat.
Magetta Viljoen, who first spotted the vehicle, said the dogs were near collapse and lying in their own excrement.
It is presumed that the three men in the pickup had driven the approximately 2 000 kilometres from Bellville, South Africa, without stopping.
The dogs were taken to the police station at Helao Nafidi, where they were given water and food. Members of the public said the bakkie, with the dogs, disappeared in the course of Monday evening across the Angolan border.
It was later established that the two Huskies were held back because they had been reported stolen in Cape Town.
Sources said another vehicle, a Jeep Cherokee with a trailer, was found at the Oshikango border post transporting 38 dogs of the same breeds.
They said the police allowed 15 dogs through, but held back the remaining dogs because the car driver could not produce the necessary documents for them.
But Namibian Police Inspector Abner Agas said both vehicles were allowed to enter Angola with the dogs around 13h00 yesterday because there was no foul play suspected.
He said the two vehicles were transporting a total of 15 dogs - five in one vehicle and 10 in the other.
Agas said the Namibian Police had no proof that the vehicles and dogs were stolen goods, and could not confirm or deny whether the South African Police had indeed become involved in the matter.
In the meantime, outraged South African owners who have reported their dogs stolen have frantically tried to get the Namibian Police to stop the dogs from being transported into Angola before they have been identified.
The owners hoped to get their dogs back through the Namibian SPCA.
One owner of stolen dogs, Sibylle Rutherford from Cape Town, said she was told by the Namibian Police that the dogs had been allowed across the border into Angola because they had been given a clean bill of health and had the required transport permits and vaccination certificates.
"The dogs were only there [at the Oshikango border post] for two days before they were released, so how could anyone have a chance to claim their pets," an exasperated Rutherford said.
Dog owners who lost their dogs are said to have called in the assistance of Interpol to get their dogs returned from Angola.
State veterinarian Shaan Schmidt yesterday said permits from the Ministry of Agriculture are required before dogs are allowed across the border.
She said the dogs have to be taken to offices of the ministry before permits are issued. For the permit to be issued, proven records must be presented that dogs have received their first vaccinations. Dogs older than three months must have had rabies vaccinations too.
In South Africa, dogs must be vaccinated one month before they can cross the border. In Namibia, it is understood, dogs must receive their shots seven days before crossing any international borders.
Superintendent Johan Kellerman of the Windhoek City Police yesterday said four cases of dog theft were reported in Windhoek in recent days.