South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority routinely boasts remarkably high conviction rates. It uses them to reject criticism of its performance. But as it only prosecutes cases it is likely to win, they are unreliable measures of success in tackling crime.
In cases of rhino poaching, trafficking of rhino horn and illegal hunting, the NPA has laid claim to an 83% conviction rate.
Between January 2010 and July 2012, for instance, 573 people were arrested for rhino related crimes. Yet, in 2012, only 28 accused were convicted in 20 cases.
Thai national Chemlong Lemtongthai was sentenced in November 2012 in Johannesburg to 40 years in a South African jail for participating in the illegal trade in rhino horns in a landmark case.