File picture

An alleged abalone syndicate leader will spend the next two months behind bars while his accomplices walk the streets freely.

Frank Barends, 39, from Gansbaai, who paid R100 000 bail in July last year for perlemoen smuggling, could not even muster a smile when he appeared in Khayelitsha Magistrates’ Court on a similar charge on Thursday.

Barends and three of his fellow alleged syndicate members were re-arrested in October last year in connection with a massive perly bust in August near Ventersburg in the Free State.

The abalone, which is estimated to have a street value of about R2 million, was discovered hidden under a load of oranges after cops received an anonymous tip-off.

The alleged poaching kingpin, his right-hand man Donovan Dickson, Christopher Kapot and Ebrahim van Tonder had to spend the festive season far away from their families in jail.

But the only comfort they now have is they will be in a prison closer to their homes after it was decided in court yesterday that they will be moved to Caledon Overberg Prison until their next court appearance.

The four were arrested in July last year along with ex-cop Jody Behr, Daniel Oktober, Quinton Knoetze, Abdul Mobarra, Kerneels “Mannetjies” Chaka, Johannes Jacobs, Frederick Matthews, Henry “Balla” Spandiel, Walter Delport, Anton McLain, Gilbert Polite Hart, Frank Maritz, Boltwun Boezak, Samuel Brett, Piet Booysen, Gabriel van Wyk and Christiaan Crous.

Court documents reveal the syndicate has been operating for over 12 years in the Gansbaai area and they have made an estimated grand total of R2 billion from their illegal dealings.

Crous, Chaka, Jacobs and MacLain are also allegedly part of a smaller syndicate which will be addressed in a separate hearing.

But while the rest of the abalone syndicate members are running free, Barends, Van Tonder and Kapot will wait behind bars for their next court appearance later this year.

The matter is expected to be referred to the Cape High Court at a later stage. - Daily Voice