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Six Vietnamese men arrested in lion bone syndicate in S Africa

Update: November, 29/2018 - 17:55
Police and Hawks officers recovered lion and tiger bones during the arrest of eight men near Klerksdorp, South Africa on November 25, 2018. — Photo courtesy of Hawks
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — Six Vietnamese nationals have been arrested in South Africa with several lion bones, lion meat and tools which police believe were used to process the bones.

According to South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, more commonly known as Hawks, six foreign nationals and two South African men were nabbed on Sunday while driving in a convoy in Klerksdorp, the North West Province, which is about 250km to the northwest of the capital Pretoria.

A search of the vehicles found a large quantity of freshly cut lion meat and bones, a tiger skin and bones, gas cylinders, gas burners, containers, a saw, knives and other equipment used to process predator carcasses and bones.

The syndicate members were identified as Vietnamese nationals Nguyen Huu Son, 30, Nguyen Van Tuan, 33, Dao The Thanh, 38, Pham Van Khue, 56, Chanh, 56 and Cu Quoc Thang, 60, together with their South African accomplices Johagem Louis Fouche, 22 and Lourens Pretorious, 24. Fourty-two-year-old Michael Frederich Fouche turned himself in to the police on Tuesday, according to South Africa’s News24.

They will face several charges, including the illegal possession of game products and carrying out restricted activities involving specimens of a listed, threatened or protected species.

The gang appeared at the Klerksdorp Magistrate’s Court for the first time on Tuesday; however, News24 reported the case was postponed to December 5 for further investigation and bail applications.

It is yet unclear what the men planned to use the lion bones for, but cooking concentrated animal bone glue is a common traditional practice in Việt Nam. Tiger bone glue, in particular, has a huge market demand in Việt Nam as many believe that it can cure anything from cancer to paralysis or even improve male virility.

The Vietnamese Embassy in South Africa told Vietnam News Agency that it was aware of the case and was working to carry out necessary measures to protect the Vietnamese citizens.

The embassy also repeated its warning to all Vietnamese travellers and those living in South Africa to always comply with the local and Vietnamese law and not do anything that might harm bilateral relations or Việt Nam’s image. — VNS


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