Police made a breakthrough in the December R1.2 million abalone bust in Gqeberha by arresting a 35-year-old man.
The Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigations (known as the Hawks) said they arrested Johannes Petrus Cloete in his diving gear as he was about to enter the sea at Noordhoek in Gqeberha over the weekend.
Cloete appeared in the Gqeberha New Law Court on Monday charged with possession of abalone.
The Hawks said the arrest was a joint effort between Economic Protected Resources (EPR) team of Serious Organised Crime Investigation of the Hawks in Gqeberha and the Dark Water Operations, Department of Environmental Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) and South African Police Service (SAPS) Port of Entry members.
Spokesperson Captain Yolisa Mgolodela said the team was on the lookout for the suspect since they seized the abalone worth around R1.2 million on December 9.
Mgolodela said EPR members received information indicating a rubber duck was about to offload abalone onto a vehicle.
“The members arrived at the scene and found the rubber duck stuck on the sand where people were in the process of offloading the abalone but fled the scene on seeing the police,” Mgolodela said.
“The members confiscated 26 bags of abalone containing 5,700 units weighing about 1,000 kg and diving equipment.”
On January 20, police acting on a tip-off, arrested Cloete.
Mgolodela said Cloete was remanded in custody and the matter was adjourned to January 29.