Man arrested for poaching endangered plants worth R1.6 million

Northern Cape police officers with a bag containing poached plants,.

Northern Cape police officers with a bag containing poached plants soon after arresting a man travelling by bus from Springbok to Cape Town with poached Conophytums worth about R1.6 million. Picture: Supplied/ SAPS

Published Dec 10, 2022


Rustenburg - A man was arrested for dealing in endangered plants worth R1.6 million in the Northern Cape.

He was arrested on Thursday, while he was travelling in a bus from Springbok in the Northern Cape to Cape Town in the Western Cape.

"Springbok Highway Patrol received information about an alleged succulent poacher, operationalised it and arrested one male with Conophytums worth about R1.6 million," Northern Cape provincial police spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Sergio Kock said.

He said police in Garies swiftly responded on the information. The bus was intercepted, stopped and searched in Garies and the man was found with the poached Conophytum plants.

"The adult male suspect was arrested and will be appearing in the Springbok Magistrate's Court soon on charges of alleged dealing in endangered plants," he said.

Conophytum is a type of dwarf succulent, many of which are currently endangered due to poaching. The illegal trade in these plants is increasing at an alarming speed.

In the Northern Cape, it is illegal to take endangered species out of the province without a permit.

Meanwhile, police and private anti-poaching units monitoring the Gqeberha coastline in the Eastern Cape, confiscated abalone and diving equipment worth thousands of rands in separate incidents on Wednesday.

"In the first incident, at about 3.10am special operations were held in our endeavours to apprehend illegal poachers operating in the ocean. The team comprising of K9 members and Gqeberha Flying Squad assisted by private anti-poaching units confiscated 8 bags of abalone at Maitland beach. A total of 1 119 units of abalone estimated at R650 000 was confiscated. The six suspects on spotting police approaching them, ran off in different directions," said Eastern Cape police spokesperson, Colonel Priscilla Naidu.

"In another incident, at about 4.50am while Public Order Policing were patrolling on the M4 road, they noticed a rubber duck in the sea that was moving from the Summerstrand side towards Bluewater Bay. The members rushed towards Bluewater Bay and noticed the rubber duck that was now racing away from the beach.

"The members then patrolled the beach on foot and found five green bags tied with rope. The bags were filled with 1 007 units of abalone. The estimated value of the mollusc are R422 940. No arrests were made," she said.

On the same day, two rubber ducks, diving gear and equipment were confiscated from the beach at Noordhoek. An enquiry docket was opened for investigation, she said.

In the Western Cape, a 43-year-old woman was arrested for possession of suspected stolen property after the Provincial Extortion Task Team recovered 300 boxes of stolen liquor valued at R1.8 million at a house in Eersterivier.

"The team received information from crime intelligence and searched a house in Heather Park, Eersterivier. During the search, they seized alcohol worth R1.8 million. This follows an incident where a truck transporting the same alcohol brand was hijacked in Maitland," said police spokesperson, Ndakhe Gwala.

In KwaZulu-Natal, the Economic Infrastructure Task Team in the eThekwini District, arrested five people and recovered of 2.2 tons of copper cables at a scrap metal dealer in Phoenix on Monday.

"The five suspects were on duty when the police arrived unannounced for a targeted compliance inspection operation. A search at the premises led to the discovery of copper cables which were stashed in the back of a bakkie.

"More copper cables were found concealed under a weighbridge in the premises. A large quantity of the recovered copper cables belonged to Transnet, eThekwini municipality and Telkom, as positively identified by relevant officials who formed part of the inspection team.

“The value of the recovered copper cables was estimated to be approximately R3 million. The bakkie which was found with copper cables was also seized," Colonel Robert Netshiunda said.

The five, aged between 23 and 40, were charged with tampering with essential infrastructure as well as the contravention of Section 36 and Section 37 of the Criminal Matters Amendment Act, Act No. 18 of 2015.