Rhinoceroses. SJ Dodgson. MJoTA 2013 v7n1 0520
A rhinoceros is a clumsy animal which looks like it forgot
to become extinct with the dinosaurs.
Africa is filled with men with large guns who are doing their best to make them
extinct in the 21st century. That would make their horns even more
valuable than they are now: as China has become wealthier, the market for
Chinese medicines containing rhinoceros horn has exploded.
Sanctions against killing rhinoceroses for their horns are
in place in South Africa, home to 75% of the world’s rhinoceroses, however, the
value of the horns is too high to prevent the risk of being caught poaching
rhinoceroses. In April 2013, Reuters
reported the theft from a safe of 66 rhinoceros horns worth $2.75 million. No
honor between thieves.
The rhinoceros-horn trade in South Africa is well known. Sometime
before Jan 23, 2013, 2 white South African rhino-rights activists, James
Janssen and Joe, later identified in Pretoria Magistrates Court as South
African police officers, were introduced by Congolese Carlos Nkuna to Congolese
Chadrien Kilele. The 3 of them convinced Mr Kilele that they had bags of money
to set up a camp to train men to prevent rhinoceros poaching.
Mr Kilele is a Congolese refugee, subject to South African
laws which specifically deny some rights of South African citizens to
Congolese. Mr Kilele escaped from Congo to seek refuge in South Africa, as have
800,000 Congolese, and like most of his countrymen, have found South Africa a
hostile country where he and his family have difficulty making a living, and
with obstacle after obstacle legally preventing access to steady employment or
The offer of being
able to work legally for good pay sounded real to Chadrien Kilele, and why
would it not? He contacted his friend,
Etienne Kabila who claims to be the son of the late Laurent Kabila, former
president of Congo, because the 2 white South African rhino-rights activists
and Mr Nkuna told him that in this operation they needed his help.
Mr Kabila traveled 2,000
kilometers from Capetown to Johannesburg to discuss job offers. Mr Kabila
decided that these 2 were mischief-makers, and told Mr Kilele to stay away from
Mr Kilele disagreed, and decided that James Kazongo would be
a great substitute for the son of the former president of Congo. James Kazongo
is a 55-year-old chef living in Delaware, USA, resident of the US for over 25
years, husband of a Congolese US citizen, father of 3 little boys.
Mr Kazongo had been having a hard year, alternating between steady work as a chef and unemployment checks, supplemented by his wife working as a nurse's aid: this was
insufficient to pay all the mortgage and other bills. But not an
impossible situation; likely the new year of 2013 would have brought short-term and long-term jobs in restaurants. However, this invitation out of the blue to do good and be well paid seemed like the
answer to prayers.
Mr Kazongo had no doubt the offer was genuine: even though he had to pay for his own airline
ticket, from the 2 white South African rhino-rights activists, for passage all
the way from Delaware (which is in between Washington DC, and New York City) to
Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa, a 40-minute drive from Pretoria, the capital.
Mr Kazongo landed in Johannesburg on Jan 24, and
traveled with the anti-rhino activists to Limpopo around Feb 1, expecting to get to work preventing the
senseless slaughter of rhinoceroses.
Only on the night before Mr Kazongo was arrested
with 18 others of the Congolese 20, only after they realized they had been
scammed and kidnapped did they learn that the 2 anti-rhino activists wanted
them to overthrow the government of Congo.
On that night they were lectured by a 3rd
white anti-rhino activist named Nick, after their phones had been confiscated
and they had been threatened with being shot to death if they went outside the