Thanks to a reliable tip-off, Cape Town law enforcement officials, in partnership with operatives from the Department of Environmental Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), intercepted a consignment of abalone with an estimated street value of R10-million.
Cape Town abalone smugglers caught
According to police spokesperson Zinzi Hani, two suspects were taken down at a service station near Malmesbury, on Monday after reliable information revealed that the two vehicles they were travelling in carried loads of abalone.
“During the operation the members identified a white Hino truck as well as a white Audi driving on the N7 highway direction in Malmesbury. The members stopped both vehicles on the N7 at a service station in Philadelphia” Hani noted in a statement.
Upon searching the two vehicles, 70 boxes containing 23 896 dried abalone were found. Based on general calculation, this consignment fetches for about R9.9 million in the black market.
“Two suspects aged 28 and 35 are due to appear in the Atlantis Magistrates’ Court on [Wednesday]19 May 2021 where they will face a charge of possession and transporting of illegal abalone in terms of the Marine Living Resources Act 18 of 1998,” Hani revealed.
Why is abalone trading illegal in South Africa?
Abalone is one of many of the world’s natural wonders that have been overly exploited by humans. According to the Marine Living Resources Act, removing abalone from its natural habitat is deemed as poaching and in criminal law, those found guilty of contravening this act could either be slapped with a hefty fine or spend no more than two years behind bars.
In one case, however, an abalone poacher, Solomon Sauls, was sentenced to 244 years imprisonment for operating an illegal abalone poaching enterprise.
The 45-year-old entered into a plea agreement with the State and his sentence was reduced to mandatory 18 years.