DA to scrutinize elusive KwaZulu-Natal Rhino Poaching Report

18 May 2022 in Press Statements

Commissioned six years ago and kept under lock and key by the Office of the Premier until now, the hidden report into rhino poaching in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) has been partially released to the Democratic Alliance following extensive pressure.

The DA welcomes the concession by KZN Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) MEC, Ravi Pillay, for the partial release of the report. The MEC’s move comes after the DA submitted a Public Access to Information Application (PAIA) for the report a month ago.

The DA believes that the partial release of the report is an important first step in getting to grips with the scourge of poaching in our province. At last count, rhino poaching figures had surpassed 2021 numbers, with 106 rhino killed by poachers this year.

In his recent budget debate responses, MEC Pillay assured the KZN Legislature that he would make a copy of the report available to the DA. He would not, however, commit to public disclosure as the report allegedly contains sensitive information linked to ongoing anti-poaching investigations.

The DA received part one of the report yesterday. It will now undergo our scrutiny – and will be available for any interested and affected parties to read. While we respect the partial release, we firmly believe that all reports funded by taxpayers should ultimately be made available to all interested and affected parties.

Moreover, the DA believes any sensitive anti-poaching findings within the report should immediately have been acted upon when it was first submitted to the Premier’s office two years ago.

Once studied, the DA will be in a better position to understand whether the report is now dated or whether it is still relevant and thereafter formulate an action plan to have it made public.

The partial release of the report cannot be taken in isolation and KZN’s EDTEA must urgently commit to;

• Finding additional funding to employ more rangers and properly equip them;
• Put permanent task teams in place to take the fight to poaching syndicates and;
• Establish a public and transparent incident reporting system so that the public can track “contacts” and shooting incidents within Ezemvelo parks.

A broad picture of the war in the parks is critical for provincial government, NGOs and the KZN’s public to understand the plight of this species. In this regard, the DA will continue to fight for full disclosure of this important report.