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50 suspects arrested in abalone crackdown

Two suspects were arrested in Bellville for the possession of abalone. Picture: Supplied / SAPS

Two suspects were arrested in Bellville for the possession of abalone. Picture: Supplied / SAPS

Published Jan 27, 2020

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Cape Town – Police and the SA National Parks (SANParks) together arrested at least 50 suspected abalone poachers at the weekend.

The suspects, nabbed near the Garden Route and in Bellville, were expected to appear in court today.

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SANParks said their rangers apprehended 48 suspected abalone poachers between Keurbooms and Salt River in Tsitsikamma. More than 142kg of abalone was confiscated.

SANParks chief executive Fundisile Mketeni congratulated Cape Nature and police.

“Our organisation is part of local policing forums in the Garden Route towns; as a result we are able to fight poaching as a collective, Mketeni said.

The suspects, understood to be from Gaansbaai, were expected to appear in court today.

Police spokesperson Siyabulela Malo said in Bellville members had received a tip-off about a house in Kommissaris Street, Welgemoed, that was storing abalone.

“The members conducted further investigations and spotted suspects in the area who fled upon police arrival. A high-speed chase led to the arrests of two foreign nationals in Jip de Jager Drive,” Malo said.

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After the chase police returned to the address to find 1038 units of abalone estimated to be worth R81149.

Equipment used to dry the abalone was also confiscated.

“Two suspects were arrested and are expected to make a court appearance in the Bellville Magistrate's Court for the illegal possession of abalone,” Malo said.

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Earlier this month, police arrested another two suspected poachers.

Police said in ensuring the protection of marine resources and bringing illegal abalone poachers to book in the Western Cape, vigilant members of Flying Squad acted on information about abalone kept in a house in Atlantis.

“A search was conducted at the premises which resulted in the seizure of 2255 units of illegal abalone estimated to be worth R890000. Equipment to process and dry abalone was also confiscated,” Malo said.

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The suspects appeared in the Malmesbury Magistrate’s Court for illegal possession of abalone.

Last year environmentalists and the fishing community cautiously welcomed news that abalone poaching will be reclassified as a serious priority crime to be investigated by the SAPS Organised Crime Unit. 

The announcement was made in November at a meeting of the standing committee on community safety at the provincial legislature as part of a briefing by the SAPS on the 2018/19 annual report in the province.

Cape Times

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