Media statement on allegations contained in Al Jazeera Documentary ‘The Poacher’s Pipeline’

15 November 2016

The Department of Environmental Affairs notes the contents of the rhino poaching documentary ‘The Poacher’s Pipeline’ that had its international premiere on the Al Jazeera network on the 14th of November 2016.

As the department tasked with conserving, amongst others, our iconic rhino populations, and coordinating the actions taken with the security departments to combat rhino poaching, the Department of Environmental Affairs will continue to use all means at our disposal to end rhino poaching.

We have therefore noted with seriousness of the allegations contained in the documentary – particularly as this relates to transnational criminal syndicates involved in the illicit wildlife trade operating from South Africa.

“The filmmakers should be lauded for their investigative work that draws attention to the links between rhino poaching in general and organised crime, a fact the Department has always maintained. Equally, our Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros approach that has begun to yield some success, must also be lauded,” says Minister of Environmental Affairs Dr Edna Molewa.

“In the same vein I would caution against rushing to cast aspersions on Minister (of State Security David) Mahlobo simply on the basis of him being photographed in certain company,” said Dr Molewa.

“Public representatives are requested to pose for photographs by members of the public all the time, and to use this clearly outdated image to conclude that the Minister is somehow involved in a serious crime like poaching, is at the very least flimsy, and at the worst, defamatory.”

The Minister adds that in some circumstances, members of the public circulate such images to suggest they have personal relationships with public figures, or to ‘name drop.’ This is insufficient grounds to implicate someone in illegal activities, and would be unlikely to withstand legal scrutiny.

The Department of Environmental Affairs notes with concern allegations made in the documentary that Minister Mahlobo was involved in terminating the services of a private service provider contracted to SANParks to perform certain services in the Kruger National Park (KNP).

It is worrying that the company’s wild claims were untested in the documentary, such as that they, above all others, were making a serious impact on rhino poaching in South Africa.

The SANParks Board, following consultation with the Minister of Environmental Affairs, terminated the Professional Services Agreement with the company in question, in full compliance with the law.

The reasons for the termination of their contract are well-known. These have been explained to South Africans through the media on a number of occasions, and had nothing to do with Minister Mahlobo.

The State Security Agency (SSA) has issued a statement responding to the allegations contained in the documentary, and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks) are further investigating this matter.

We join them in urging members of the public and the media to await the outcome of these investigations, and not rely on undue speculation.

For media inquiries contact:

Albi Modise
Cell: 083 490 2871