Senzeni Zokwana.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries said on Wednesday his department had scored legal victories in countering corruption within the fishing industry, days after the main opposition accused him of graft.

Minister Senzeni Zokwana said the department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries (DAFF) was using diplomatic channels and legal remedies to have funds held in trust abroad released, after a court ordered convicted international fishing kingpin Arnold Bengis to pay $67 million to South Africa as the victim of his overfishing activities.

"The monies held by the trusts in Jersey indicate how organised fisheries crime deprives the people of South Africa of economic benefits which could be used for the promotion of domestic coastal initiatives and compliance measures," Zokwana said.

He also touted an order by the Western Cape High Court overturning a tender for 90 tons of abalone unlawfully awarded to Willjarro (Pty) Ltd, as another win for the department.

"This matter has been highly publicised by the media, with representatives related to Willjarro making false accusations against some members of our department, however, the order herein once more vindicates the department against any wrongdoing," the minister said.

"The department remains committed to, and will deal decisively with any and all allegations of corrupt activities, the department will take equal measures both internally and externally in rooting out those who perpetrate acts of corruption."

The main opposition Democratic Alliance, which controls the Western Cape province, earlier this week called for an urgent investigation after the City Press newspaper reported that former president Jacob Zuma had accepted a R1 million cash bribe to keep Zokwana as minister in order to prioritise abalone processing and fishing permits for select companies.

It urged Zuma's successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa to also conduct a complete overhaul of the DAFF following the arrest of nine officials in connection with abalone poaching.

- African News Agency