Cape Town cops nab two in R3m illegal abalone bust

2019-02-14 17:56
(Supplied)

(Supplied)

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The Hawks confiscated yet another haul of abalone in Cape Town, this time R3.1m's worth in Durbanville, a spokesperson said on Thursday. 

Rows of abalone drying out next to a fan in a room, and ready-packed bags were seized in an operation by the Serious Organised Crime unit, K9 officers and fisheries department officials. 

Captain Philani Nkwalase said wet and dried abalone was found at the illegal processing plant. Two people were also arrested and are expected to appear at the Bellville Magistrate's Court on Friday. 

Confiscated abalone, also known as perlemoen, is auctioned off with the state taking a portion of the proceeds to combat poaching. 

The Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry is currently investigating alleged impropriety over the sale of some of the confiscated stock, and the allocation of fishing rights.

A complaint about this has also been lodged with the Public Protector.

96 million abalone poached, R628m lost a year

Poaching of the fleshy shellfish delicacy has reached worrisome levels, with poachers having taken at least 96 million units of the country's abalone in the past 17 years, according to international wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic.

READ: SA has lost 96 million abalone to poaching since 2000 - new report 

As a result the legal economy is losing an estimated R628m a year.

The report noted that South Africa is a popular smuggling route. The illegal facilities, often run in suburban houses, have also led to confrontations with police, injuries, and death.

In November one man died in a gas cylinder explosion at an illegal drying facility in Maitland, Cape Town. 

Beverley Schafer, Western Cape MEC for Economic Opportunities described poaching as a "transnational, syndicated crime which is often linked to drugs and gangs".

However, she noted in the interview with Fin24 that the people being arrested are the runners and divers, and people acting out of "pure economic necessity" who have no viable economic alternative.

Read more on:    cape town  |  crime
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