If the provincial Police Ombudsman Johan Brand has his way, abalone poaching would be classed, alongside rhino poaching, as organised crime. File photo: Supplied/SAPS
Cape Town - If the provincial Police Ombudsman Johan Brand has his way, abalone poaching would be classed, alongside rhino poaching, as organised crime and investigated by the Organised Crime Unit of the SAPS.

This was one of the recommendations the ombudsman made in a report, handed over to Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz on Tuesday.

The MEC said: “This report will be presented to the provincial standing committee on community safety, who will further review the report as per the constitutional powers of such a multi-party committee.

“The Standing Committee may also call on any SAPS members to appear before it to further explain and account for the findings made by the Police Ombudsman.”

The report, which dealt with a complaint about the poor response from a number of SAPS stations, in the Overstrand area, was lodged by the provincial government, in May this year.

The police stations in the complaint, which the Ombudsman has substantiated, were at Gansbaai, Kleinmond, Hermanus and Stanford.

The report suggested that the matter of abalone poaching, and the poor response by the stations, be escalated to the national Police Minister Bheki Cele.

“To address the poor police to population ratio and vehicle allocations for detectives in the Overberg cluster.”

Other recommendations made in the Ombudsman report include the establishment of an environmental court, in consultation with Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola, and ensuring that the National Integrated Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking (NISCWT) be urgently submitted to Cabinet for approval.

The report also recommended that the current policing model be referred to the relevant standing committee, as well as the approach taken by the province to determine whether sector policing is still applied in the province.

It added it should be studied in line with the judgment in Social Justice Coalition and Others v Minister of Police and Others.

The recommendations further requested that the MEC for Environmental Affairs and Development Planning Anton Bredell address the backlog, concerning the disposal of abalone at the storage facilities, with the national Minister of Environmental Affairs and Fisheries Barbara Creecy; and that the Department of Community Safety should ensure an urgent improvement in the recruitment of accredited neighbourhood watch structures, in the Overstrand area.

The MEC said: “I will work closely with the necessary stakeholders to ensure that these recommendations are reviewed and implemented.”

Johan Brand

[email protected]

Cape Argus