Minister David Mahlobo response to Al Jazeera documentary

Statement by State Security Minister David Mahlobo in response to Al Jazeera documentary

The Minister of State Security Mr David Mahlobo, MP, has noted with grave concern and disappointment the unfounded and slanderous allegations made against him in an Al Jazeera's documentary titled "'Al Jazeera Investigates: The Poachers Pipeline" as well as Sunday's publications within the country.

The documentary, aired on Al Jazeera on Sunday 13 November 2016, purports a linkage and the involvement of Minister Mahlobo in the illegal rhino horn trade. The basis of this "linkage" was said to be Mahlobo's visits to the local Mbombela Spa owned by a self-confessed criminal Guan Jiang Guang. At the time Minister Mahlobo visited the Spa he had no idea as to what Mr. Guang was involved in.

The Minister refutes these ludicrous allegations with all the contempt that they deserve and reserves his rights in respect of those making such false claims. Additionally, he strongly rebukes Al Jazeera and other local publications and broadcasters that reported on the story in the sensation seeking, unprofessional and reckless manner.

Guang apparently stated that he had some sort of friendship with Minister Mahlobo and that the Minister on some occasions attended to his private residence as well. This is not true. Minister Mahlobo is not a friend of Mr. Guang and has never visited him at his residence. The photo that appeared on Al Jazeera and in the Sunday papers is a photo taken when the Minister was being treated at a manicure table and Guang requested a photo to be taken. This is clear from the photo itself.

The flimsy and vague allegation made in the programme by Mr. Nigel Morgan that his company's contract was terminated by Kruger National Parks as a result of possible interference by Minister Mahlobo is rejected and will be dealt with in the appropriate forum.

"It is extremely reckless and mischievous for an internationally renowned broadcaster like Al Jazeera to be broadcasting such misleading content despite our response" said Mahlobo.

"They are basically linking the fact that I used to visit a Spa in Mpumalanga 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", said the Minister.

Minister Mahlobo says this is tantamount to defamation and is appalled at being 'linked' to any activity and its syndicates and or individuals that are seeking to further deplete the country's endangered rhino population.

The Minister restated his position on this matter saying "I am not a friend of the guy, nor have I been ever to his home or have received any of his employees into my home. Finally my wife has no business relationship with the man or his employees."

Consequently this morning, Minister Mahlobo has initiated the following remedial actions to deal with some of the alarming claims made in the documentary:

Requested that Mpumalanga Police Commissioner to immediately investigate all allegations made against him in the documentary.

Requested that the Commissioner take action against Guan for illegal rhino poaching activity.

Requested the Commissioner to additionally look into claims by Guan that he employs illegal immigrants and circumvents immigration laws.

Finally, Minister Mahlobo has engaged a legal team to investigate possible defamation action against Al Jazeera, the publications, Mr Guang and Mr Morgan for defamation and the reputational damage that this documentary and the newspaper articles have caused to the State Security Ministry and his family.

11. Since his appointment Minister Mahlobo, working with other relevant Ministers has been at the forefront in fighting against environmental crimes. The Ministry further reiterates that it will continue to work tirelessly within the security services as part of the government's effort to curb transnational organized crime and bring to justice those involved including their syndicates.

Source: Government of South Africa