Hawks hail stiff sentences for abalone poachers
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Cape Town: Two men convicted of multiple counts of abalone poaching have been given stiff sentences including five years in prison suspended for five years. and paying R100 000 each into the Criminal Asset Recovery Account (CARA).
Yihang Li, a Chinese national and Jan Jacobs yesterday pleaded guilty in the Khayelitsha Regional Court to multiple charges of possession of illegal abalone.
They were both arrested in Table View in October last year during a search-and-seizure operation executed by a multidisciplinary team that included the Western Cape Hawks’ Serious Organised Crime Investigation, Crime Intelligence as well as officials from the provincial Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environmental Affairs (DFFE).
They were ordered to each pay R100 000 into CARA and forfeit the abalone that was seized during the operation to the state.
The Hawks welcomed the sentences, adding that the men were each sentenced to five years imprisonment, suspended for five years, with strict conditions on one count of contravening the Marine Living Resources Act 18 of 1998.
The Hawks said they also received an additional fine of R200 000 with an alternative two-year sentence, suspended for five years, with strict conditions.
In an unrelated matter, Qing Yun Jiang who appeared in the same court on Wednesday, was also ordered to pay R200 000 into the CARA, and the abalone seized during the search and seizure was also forfeited to the state
According to the Hawks, Jiang was arrested in Milnerton during an integrated take-down operation by members of the Hawks Organised Crime Investigation assisted by Crime Intelligence, K9 as well as members of the DFEE in May 2020. His co-accused was cleared on all charges.
He was sentenced to five years imprisonment, wholly suspended for five years with condition on each of the two counts of contravening the Marine Living Resources Act.
Jiang was additionally fined R200 000 with an alternative two-year sentence, wholly suspended for five years.
Acting Provincial Head of the Hawks, Brigadier Mushavhaduvha Ramovha welcomed the sentences handed down by the Khayelitsha Regional Court to the convicted abalone poachers.
“We hope these sentences will go a long way in the fight against abalone poaching in our province,” he said.
Law Enforcement spokesperson Wayne Dyason said poaching of marine resources remained a major problem.
He said the City's Marine and Environmental Unit in collaboration with its partners were constantly thwarting poaching operations and it was not uncommon to arrest the same suspect more than once.
“It is therefore encouraging to see the courts hand down stiff sentences to Abalone poachers as it sends out a strong message that there are serious consequences for this type of criminal behaviour if they are caught,” said Dyason.