21 November 2012

Mozambique: Vietnamese Arrested With Rhino Horns

Maputo — The Mozambican police have arrested a Vietnamese citizen caught in possession of six rhinoceros horns.

A spokesperson for the general command of the Mozambican police, Raul Freia, told reporters on Tuesday that the 58 year old man, named as Van Nga, was arrested last Thursday at the airport in the northern city of Pemba, as he was about to catch a plane.

Freia did not give the man’s destination, but he was presumably intent on taking the horns to east Asia, where they are worth more than their weight in gold. Although rhino horns consist largely of keratin, the same protein found in human fingernails, they are believed to cure cancer and other diseases – a superstition that is driving the animals to the brink of extinction.

This is the third time this year that Vietnamese citizens have been caught at Pemba airport trying to smuggle rhino horns out of the country. It is not clear whether the horns come from rhinos killed in Mozambique or in South Africa.

Freia said that also last week, in the central city of Beira, the police detained a Chinese citizen, whom he named as T. Zuwo, who was trafficking a rare species of protected marine wildlife. Freia did not name the species in question.

He said the Chinese tried unsuccessfully to bribe the arresting officer with a note of 500 meticais (about 17 US dollars)

Freia said that during the disturbances in Maputo and the neighbouring city of Matola over last Thursday’s increase in bus fares the police arrested 39 people aged between 13 and 23. They were accused of damaging buses belonging to the Maputo municipal bus company (TPM), and to the Federation of Road Transport Operators (FEMATRO).

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