An insider's account of the South African Security Forces' role in the ivory trade

TitleAn insider's account of the South African Security Forces' role in the ivory trade
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1995
AuthorsR. Reeve, and S.D.K. Ellis
Secondary TitleJournal of contemporary African studies
Pagination227 - 243
Date Published1995///
Publication Languageeng
KeywordsAfrica, armed forces, ivory, South Africa, trade

Since the late 1980s evidence has been emerging in support of rumours of South African involvement in the southern African ivory trade from the mid-1960s onwards. There is some evidence that, from the early mid-1970s, elements of the South African government and its security forces began actively to encourage their allies in Rhodesia, Mozambique and Angola to acquire ivory and sell it through South Africa. The first really authoritative evidence that the South African Defence Force (SADF) was indeed implicated in the ivory trade in Angola especially came from Colonel Jan Breytenbach, one of the founding officers of the South African Special Forces, who had seen active service in southern Angola from 1970 on. An interview with Breytenbach, conducted at his home in the Cape Province on 8 December 1989 by Ross Reeve, working on behalf of the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), is reproduced here. In the interview, Breytenbach gives considerable detail concerning his earlier allegations that UNITA had smuggled ivory on a huge scale for many years, in complicity with officers of the SADF. A brief postscript notes that considerable doubt remains as to the precise degree of SADF involvement in the ivory trade and that the South African government has instituted (in 1994) a judicial inquiry into the alleged smuggling of and illegal trade in ivory and rhinoceros horn. Bibliogr., notes, ref

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