South African State Security Minister David Mahlobo has dismissed allegations linking him to an alleged rhino horn trafficker reported in a documentary by the Al Jazeera satellite television network.

The documentary, The Poacher’s Pipeline, implicated the Minister, alleging that he has close ties with in the illegal rhino horn trade, based on Mahlobo’s visits to a local Mbombela spa, owned by self-confessed criminal Guan Jiang Guang.

Mahlobo said in a statement here Sunday that at the time he visited the spa, he had no idea what Guang was involved in. Mahlobo said it is extremely reckless and mischievous for Al Jazeera to broadcast misleading content despite his response. He said their actions are tantamount to defamation.

“They are basically linking the fact that I used to visit a spa in Mpumalanga (Province) solely for the services that they render, to the illegal poaching of rhino horns by its owner, which I have also just been made aware of now through the aired broadcast,” he said.

“A number of my comrades, friends and high profile personalities visit the Mbombela spa, take photos with Guang’s family and some of his staff. Are these individuals now also involved on the illegal rhino trade? People drop names of high profile individuals and take photos. Does this mean friendship or connection? I don’t think so.

“I am not a friend of the guy, nor have I ever been to his home or have received any of his employees into my home. My wife has no business relationship with the man or his employees.”

He asked the Mpumalanga police commissioner to probe all allegations made against him in the documentary. He has also asked for the rhino poaching claims to be investigated and to look into claims by Guan that he employs illegal immigrants and circumvents immigration laws.

Mahlobo has also engaged a legal team to investigate possible defamation action against Al Jazeera and the reputational damage that this documentary and the newspaper articles have caused to the Ministry and his family.


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