Blood Rhino Blacklist: Hunt for Corrupt Officials
Tamlyn Jolly reports for Zululand Observer
WHILE the world watches on in dismay as South Africa’s rhino population continues to plummet and rumours of syndicates involving corrupt court officials abound, one woman has chosen to dedicate her life to bringing down these syndicates – no matter the personal consequences.
Saving the Wild organisation founder Jamie Joseph has in the run-up to one of the most high profile poaching-related cases court involving suspected rhino poaching kingpin Dumisani Gwala – set to go to trial later this month – offered a R50 000 reward to anyone supplying information leading to the arrest of corrupt court officials.
In January last year, Joseph’s investigations led her to Pongola after receiving an email from someone claiming to have unwittingly become involved in the bribery of Zululand court officials dealing with rhino poaching and other cases. Armed with a camera and a Hawks investigator, Joseph met up with the whistle-blower, who she refers to as ‘Fresh’.
This initial meeting marked the start of an informative relationship, one which led to an investigation by the Magistrate’s Commission and the police, culminating in the suspension of KZN Regional Court President Eric Nzimande.
Several other magistrates and prosecutors are reportedly also under investigation.
Watch the BBC Documentary featuring an exclusive interview with Whistleblower ‘Fresh’
Joseph has fearlessly published to the world, including the BBC, which produced the documentary ‘Rhinos: Killing and Corruption’, the following allegations:
‘While Fresh desperately needed to earn a wage, he at first thought it was a real job,’ said Joseph.
‘But soon, he claimed, he was palming cash into the hands of magistrates in the toilets at Mtubatuba and Ingwavuma courts, or they would come to his house and get wasted on blood money and bottles of Hennessy (cognac).’
Fresh was able to reconcile the rhino poaching cases in his conscience, having been told they were ‘just like cows’. It is alleged that these activities escalated into money laundering and a pyramid scheme in Jozini, which saw more than 100 people losing their wages and life savings.
According to ‘Fresh’, this is the Thayiselo pyramid scheme, and information on people driving this scheme is included in the R50 000 reward.
‘And then a boy was raped in Pongola. The rapist tried to pay his way to freedom, and that is when ‘Fresh’ drew the line and confessed to me. This information was then offered to the police.
‘The first few months were testing. He didn’t trust us and we didn’t trust him.
‘We put him through a polygraph test, which he passed, and he wrote a sworn police affidavit.
‘We handed everything we had over to the police investigating officer on the Nzimande case.
Joseph said Nzimande had allegedly been appointing magistrates in exchange for bribes to feed a gambling habit he reportedly had.
‘Suddenly the two investigations began to fit like a puzzle – a systematic web of corruption across multiple levels.’
According to Joseph, the Hawks and Magistrates Commission have been investigating, among other things, the fact that two of Gwala’s previous attorneys have also been acting magistrates appointed by Nzimande.
Since Gwala’s arrest four years ago, his case has been delayed no fewer than 30 times and saw seven lawyer changes.
According to Joseph, the two previously mentioned lawyers should rather have been focusing on their roles as acting magistrates instead of taking on poaching clients.
Aside from the losses to South Africa’s rhino population, it is the human victims on which Saving the Wild is focused.
‘More people must come forward if the sanctity of the courtroom is ever to return.
‘If any victims or whistle-blowers would like to come forward, they can do so by emailing savingthewildrewardfund@ protonmail.com and read more about the Blood Rhino Blacklist on www.savingthewild.com.
Saving the Wild has never burned a source,’ said Joseph.