Port Elizabeth - Abalone kingpin Julian Brown, convicted of racketeering and contravening the Marine Living Act, told the Port Elizabeth High Court on Wednesday that he was prepared to upgrade an impoverished Walmer Township for the sake of the community as part of his sentence.
Brown was emotional when called to testify in mitigation of sentence and said he was prepared to upgrade the township as a form of punishment, under court order.
His sister, Nicola Hutton, 34, was also called as a witness and said Brown created work opportunities, through his construction business, for struggling communities.
Hutton recalled an incident when Brown saved an elderly man while his vehicle was being torched by angry protesters.
“My brother has a heart of gold. He built houses from the ground for people who did not have and sent a Malawian employee back home because he had not seen his family for five years,” she said.
Hutton said that Brown would be a bigger asset outside jail than behind bars and begged the court for mercy. She also asked the court to consider Brown’s partner Tania and her two-year-old child who were dependent on him.
However, when state prosecutor Martin Le Roux cross-examined Hutton she became defensive claiming she had no idea about Brown’s involvement in the illegal abalone trade and had no knowledge of his assets.
Le Roux questioned Hutton’s claim that brother and sister were “close” but appeared to have no knowledge of his affairs.
“I’ve got a stellar job, I’m married, I really don’t know a lot about his life or personal affairs,” she said.
Defence advocate Terry Price asked the court to impose a non-custodial sentence and said there was no evidence that Brown benefited financially from the enterprise.
“Not a single abalone was found in Brown’s possession and there’s no evidence that he owned a car, house or shares,” said Price.
In aggravation of sentence, the State highlighted that Brown was never prosecuted for possession of abalone and emphasised that the value of abalone was irrelevant.
“It’s not necessary to prove how much money he made, whether he made R10 million or R100 million, the point is that he operated under organised crime, criminal style,” said Le Roux.
Le Roux said Brown was prosecuted and convicted for racketeering - the taking of marine resources forming an enterprise created through an illegal business.
“Organised crime in the world generates more income than Africa as a continent. It’s a very serious offence.”
Le Roux did not ask the court to impose a specific sentence but highlighted that racketeering carried a maximum sentence of life imprisonment or a R100 million fine.
He described Brown as the “hidden man” who operated his business through a middleman and a foot soldier.
Brown headed the enterprise alongside Eugene "Boesman" Victor and Brandon Turner.
Victor was convicted on charges which included racketeering, contravening the Marine Living Resource Act, displaying a false licence, forgery, driving without a licence and possession of abalone.
Turner was convicted on a charge of racketeering and contravening the Marine Living Resource Act.
Sentencing is expected to be handed down on March 1.
African News Agency (ANA)