Photo credit – Simon Lucas Saving the Wild – Jamie Joseph with Najin the last Northern White Rhino mother on Earth
In the lead up to World Rhino Day on 22 September, Saving the Wild, in partnership with the Djimon Hounsou Foundation, make an urgent plea to South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa, to bring sanctity back to the courts of the Kwazulu-Natal (KZN) Province.
Djimon Hounsou, Thabo Rametsi, Mandla Dube, Sir Richard Branson and three times former New Zealand Prime Minister / former UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, unite with former public protector of South Africa Professor Thuli Madonsela and the vast majority of South Africans in the pursuit of justice for human rights and the protection of South Africa’s natural heritage.
The Djimon Hounsou Foundation’s mission is two-fold: to reconnect the Peoples of the African Diaspora with their motherland, and to combat modern-day slavery & human trafficking.
In October 2017, Saving the Wild exposed the ‘Blood Rhino Blacklist’ – an alleged syndicate of corrupt judges, magistrates, prosecutors and defence attorneys who have for many years been taking bribes on human trafficking, child rape and rhino poaching. One year later, on 5 October 2018, South Africa’s Ministry of Justice suspended the KZN Court President Eric Nzimande due to alleged rampant corruption in his courts and alleged sexual harassment. While on suspension for the last four years, Nzimande has been receiving his full salary of roughly 1.4 million ZAR annually, but to date not one justice official implicated in the investigation has been arrested, nor has anyone gone through a disciplinary hearing.
On May 31st, Saving the Wild’s Washington DC based partner, Environmental Investigation Agency, submitted the formal Global Magnitsky sanctions recommendation package to the US Department of Treasury and State. This is now in process, and targets specific individuals as opposed to an entire country.
Rewind to October 10, 2019, using the Global Magnitsky Act, US Treasury announced sanctions against members of the infamous Gupta family, which or that, in collaboration with former South African President Jacob Zuma, “leveraged its political connections to engage in widespread corruption and bribery, capture government contracts, and misappropriate state assets…which was orchestrated at the expense of the South African people.”
Crimes against humanity and rhinos on the brink of extinction have led to the urgent need for an international intervention, with bribery in the courts fuelling the crisis. The campaign is asking that President Ramaphosa urgently bring accountability and no further delays in the prosecution of all implicated justice officials.
“These corrupt justice officials are state capture perpetrators that have substituted themselves for the democratic process. This is the undermining of democracy by hijacking the state. These are crimes against humanity and theft of our natural heritage.” says Professor Thuli Madonsela, Former Public Protector of South Africa.
“Being quiet is being complicit to the crime. Many politicians in South Africa are acting on personal interests, with total disregard for human rights, and a natural heritage that must be protected. Enough with inertia. Let justice be done.” says Djimon Hounsou, Actor, Producer, Humanitarian.
“Both the Magistrates Commission and the National Prosecuting Authority have used every trick in the book to delay prosecution of these corrupt justice officials, while the Ministry of Justice claim they cannot interfere. It is an amazing disgrace. We call on the President of South Africa to acknowledge these atrocities, and bring sanctity back to the courts. The government states that rhino poaching is a high priority crime – then why is there no minimum sentence for rhino poaching? In the case of rape and human trafficking, these victims who have the courage to come forward are being traumatized by magistrates drunk on power, and this blood money fuels their lifestyle. This is a web of corruption, and everyone is getting away with it.” says Jamie Joseph, Saving the Wild Director.
“Many African countries are able to protect rhinos. Unfortunately corruption in South Africa has rendered the law often ineffective in bringing those who are responsible for the slaughter of rhinos to justice. After more than a decade of slaughter, it is time for the Government to draw a line and determine to make the prosecution and judicial systems work in favour of rhino conservation. Heavy penalties for rhino poaching and no bail for repeat offenders would help thwart bribery. Currently poaching syndicates are criminalising communities and assassinating those on the frontline of rhino protection. The human cost from this war against wildlife cannot be overstated.” says Helen Clark, Former New Zealand Prime Minister (1999 – 2008) and Former UNDP Administrator (2009 – 2017).
“Rhinos and elephants represent totems that identify who we are and how we revere and respect the ecosystem as Africans. By poaching these sacred ancient animals we are literally killing ourselves as we not only will not be able to hear their heartbeat, but we will fail ourselves by further disconnecting us as a species to our fellow creatures that roam the Earth. Africans must not only participate in this movement of saving the wild, but spearhead it, to save the indigenous animals that we’ve coexisted with since the beginning.” says Mandla Dube, Director, Silverton Siege.
“We must stand against the worst of ourselves. Against our greed, our arrogance, and our complacency. So let us unite in defence of Mother Nature and protect her from our darkness. Empowering communities to be self sustaining and disempowering the criminal elements that prey on weak governance is a necessary step in preserving our precious wildlife. This planet and all its creatures are the only legacy truly worth leaving.” says Thabo Rametsi, Actor, Silverton Siege.
“Corruption enables poaching, and it’s not just the rhinos suffering, but people too. Rhinos are living, breathing time machines that have walked the earth for 50 million years, and it would be a tragedy if my grandchildren never got to see one. But rhinos also have a huge economic value to the people of South Africa. The wildlife tourism industry creates countless skilled jobs, which provide consistent income and opportunity to local communities.” says Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group and Ulusaba Private Wildlife Reserve in South Africa.