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Suspect in rhino poaching syndicate wanted by Interpol

Abraham Smit was arrested two weeks ago by the Hawks after apparently evading American authorities.

Trudie Ras, Jacobus Steyn and Abraham Smit, who are allegedly members of a rhino poaching syndicate illegally acquired an estimated R22 million worth of rhino horns. Picture: Valeska Abreu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - One of 10 people accused of being part of multimillion rand alleged rhino poaching syndicate is also wanted by Interpol.

Abraham Smit, who is also known as Arno Smit by people whom he allegedly conned in America, was arrested two weeks ago by the Hawks after apparently evading American authorities for four years in connection with fraud charges.

He is bringing forward a bail application in the Pretoria Magistrates Court, along with four other people while the remaining six have decided to postpone their applications until next week.

Details of an Interpol warrant of arrest for Smit emerged yesterday with the state expected to place it on record when the bail application continues.

He now faces a list of charges in this country relating to organised crime and racketeering for his alleged involvement in the rhino poaching syndicate said to be the biggest and most violent in the country.

In his affidavit read in court during his bail application, Smit stated that he previously lived and worked in America, but had no pending cases or charges against him.

It's expected that the state will place the Interpol warrant on record today.

Meanwhile, animal activists who attended yesterday's proceedings say bail for all of the accused should be denied.

Miranda Friedman from Activists for Animals Africa said, "The fact is that there may not be harmful to another human being, but to other rhino."

Friedman says recent cases where rhino poacher's sentences have been reduced are worrying, "What we really need to see now is courts coming down hard by denying bail."

Smit and two others, including the alleged kingpin's wife are facing a schedule five offence while anther suspect, Jacobus 'Bonnie' Steyn, is facing a schedule one offence.

An American TV news Network is reporting that Smit was a major con man who scammed people out of millions.

It's understood one of the woman he conned was met on an internet dating site for millionaires.

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