The discovery of more than 5,000 donkey hides in a shack and a metal container in Benoni could blow the lid off the illegal slaughter and trade of the animals’ meat and skin, allegedly by a Chinese syndicate.
The find marks the single biggest discovery of donkey hides and a breakthrough in a case against a syndicate suspected of slaughtering the animals and transporting the meat and hides without them being certified disease-free. The trade in donkey hide, used for medicinal purposes in China, is estimated to be worth millions of rands.
“Two of the individuals that were here claim that it has nothing to do with them, but we believe they may be involved,” said Ashley Ness, an inspector at the Highveld Horse Care Unit.
The bust followed a tip-off from an elderly woman living on a privately owned farm near the suburb of Crystal Park. She could no longer tolerate the putrid smell coming from the shack and sent a picture of what looked like donkey hides piled on a piece of wood to Ness.
The skins, which had been treated with salt, were neatly stacked and hidden behind old furniture and sets of garden tools.
After securing a search warrant, the police’s Cullinan stock theft unit discovered thousands more in a metal container near the shack.
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