Perlemoen poaching war escalates

2012-08-01 18:26

Cape Town - Poaching syndicates have penetrated the department of fisheries, corrupting some officials, Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson revealed on Wednesday.

"A preliminary investigation reveals that there is corruption within our fisheries branch in the department, and that some officials may be implicated," she told reporters at Parliament in Cape Town.

The investigation was "sensitive and at an advanced stage", and had initially focused on perlemoen poaching.

However, there was also corruption "in the allocation of quotas, permits, transfer of rights and preferential treatment given to certain businesses".

An internationally-recognised auditing firm had been engaged to carry out a forensic audit at the fisheries branch. This move appears to have triggered a fight back by the syndicates.

Joemat-Pettersson warned attempts were being made to "destabilise" her department.

"There's an attempt at destabilising the department, and this... will not be tolerated. There's also been all sorts of information surfacing about me as a person... but I will not be intimidated or harassed. This investigation will continue."

The efforts to destabilise her department were both "internal and external", she said.

Several witnesses had been placed in the Witness Protection Programme.

"There is a threat to some people's lives."

Referring to the perlemoen poaching syndicates, Joemat-Pettersson said they were "not a good group of people" to tangle with, being linked to the drug syndicates.

"They [the syndicates] have influenced a number of people in my department," she said

Referring to the spate of arrests involving perlemoen poachers in the Western Cape in recent weeks, Joemat-Pettersson also suggested these were linked to the ongoing investigation.

Such arrests "did not happen automatically", she said.

"As you can imagine, if you investigate one person, it opens a hornets' nest".

Tens of thousands of individual perlemoen have been confiscated by fisheries officials and police over the past month.

The minister declined to say how many officials were implicated in corruption.

"But if you look at the [quantity] of abalone we have confiscated, then you can imagine what the extent of the investigation will be like," Joemat-Pettersson said.

The investigation was being conducted at "very high, senior levels" and involved the police, state intelligence agencies, the SA Revenue Service, the SA National Defence Force and the SA Navy.

She said there would be more arrests.

"What we've seen [so far] is the tip of the iceberg."

  • godfrey.welman - 2012-08-01 18:48

    Lets see people do jail-time and not hospital-time followed by medical parole.

  • robin.stobbs.9 - 2012-08-01 18:58

    Here's hoping the law comes down with a heavy hand. These one-brain-cell Eco-criminals are not only cocking a snoot at the law they are actively depriving our children and their children (ad infinitum) of a natural heritage we are supposed to be preserving for the benefit of all mankind. Feed the bast**ds to the sharks - why should we pay to keep them comfortable in jail?

      John - 2012-08-01 19:41

      Have you ever looked at Irvin and Johnson, Sea Harvest, who legally strip OUR resources. We the PEOPLE can share the 10% that if we are lucky enough to get a look in to share amongst the fifty million of US.

      sachasea - 2012-08-01 20:07

      People farm abalone (perlemoen) in South Africa. One of the biggest and most successful abalone farms is located in Hermanus. According to their website: " Our farm has gone from strength to strength in the last decade, with abalone exports currently approaching 140 tonnes per annum. HIK currently employs approximately 100 people, 20 of which are occupied in highly specialised mid to senior management positions. - HIK Abalone Farm " If this is the case then surely there is enough reason to open more farms and increase the supply of legal abalone. Maybe they could contribute a percentage of their profits to what must be very expensive conservation efforts to protect our wild stocks of abalone. I bet it sells for a high price and we'd be reducing unemployment in the local area by creating more jobs in the abalone industry.

      sachasea - 2012-08-01 20:14

      Fascinating process involved in farming abalone. It takes abalone 36 – 45 months to reach market size!

  • deon.louw.73 - 2012-08-01 19:09

    Did we expect anything compentent from this cANCerous corrupt government?

      victor.tamaranui - 2012-08-01 20:11

      Crime,corruption,theft and incompetence existed pre 1994. This is not a new phenomenon due to the current government.

      ChrisinOz294 - 2012-08-02 00:47

      @victor.tamaranui. Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

  • John - 2012-08-01 19:28

    Poaching is taking livestock or game that is the property of another. Who gave fisheries ALL of the resources in the ocean? Now they can give these resources to Irvin and Johnson and Sea Harvest. 10% is for the rest of fifty million people to share. The POACHERS are STEALING from the monopolistic CORPORATIONS who do not own OUR resouces. Now paint the POACHERS black and ignore the CORPORATIONS that have legally stolen OUR resouces. No wonder fisheries officials can be CRORUPTED.

  • andrew.kannemeyer - 2012-08-02 08:39

    This is an old problem, Minister. It has been in existence for many years and unfortunately government is more of the problem than the community. With people in Johannesburg sitting with quotas and the coastal communities sitting with none. While you are at it, why dont you investigate I&J for exploiting fishing communities!

      John - 2012-08-10 23:48

      You forgot or are unaware of the other corporate thug culprit SEA HARVEST. They and Irvin and Johnson rape the oceans with impunity because they are the ones who made the LAWS.

  • eyesears.handsfeet - 2012-08-02 09:08

    Real "poachers" respects the sea just like many fishermen, as they treat it as their bread and butter that must last for a couple of years!!! Everyone knows that! Poachers doing it on a big scale (specialy the companies)in it for the money, they and the chinese are the one's messing things up. But most of the time it is the smaller guys that are being caught, just so the department, SAPS and "green scorpions" can look good! Take on the big fishes before you go for the smaller fishes, that are doing it to survive and are NOT putting the marine life in any harms way. And your so-called quota system and preferencial customers, the department knew and still knows all about them, because the department issued the permits in the first place! It came with the Marthinus Van Schalkwyk (and possibly before that) administration in order to fund the so-called "smuggling" operations using the "screen" of paying for the then "green scorpion" investigations, where police were regularly used to frame peolpe by planting abelone in their houses if they were suspects, specially the small guys. Put the focus on the small guys while the department and the companies are making millions out of the bigger guys. You are so messed-up with your corruption that started way back but you want to cry foul now!!!! Sorry don't buy your pathetic attempt at trying to get yourself out of your own mess joemat. If you really wanted to do something about it, you would have done it some time ago already!!!

  • francois.v.eeden.3 - 2012-08-02 09:42


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