Cops buoyed by recent abalone busts

CAPE ARGUS, ARTICLE BY ZODIDI DANO

ABOUT R1.5million worth of abalone was confiscated yesterday by police in a raid in Table View, bringing the total value uncovered by police in a series of busts this month to well over R5m.

There have been at least four abalone busts in the past few weeks in which police recovered more than 37318 units worth over R5.5m.

Police have also arrested at least eight suspects.

In the latest raid, police arrested a 27-year-old man after acting on a tip-off from the community.

Police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Andre Traut said: “The members were informed that the abalone is concealed in a storage unit in Table View and upon searching the premises a total of 12700 units of abalone with an estimated street value of R1.5million were confiscated.”

Traut said the suspect, a foreign national, was present during the search. The man was held on a charge of illegal possession of abalone and was due to appear in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court today.

Last week, R3m worth of abalone was confiscated and four men arrested on a farm near Bonnievale.

At around 5.45pm, members of the K9 Unit responded to a call made by an official from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries about an alleged illegal abalone processing facility.

“Upon entering the premises, an illegal abalone processing plant containing various items of equipment and abalone in the process of drying was recovered.

“In total, 15586 units of dried abalone was seized. The value of the abalone is to be determined after it has been weighed, but is estimated at in excess of R3m,” said police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk.

The four suspects arrested included two Chinese men and two South African men.

Last month, Hawks spokesman Captain Lloyd Ramovha said: “The continued identification and dismantlement of such illegal facilities has a direct bearing on addressing the plundering of the country’s precious marine resources.

“We shall continue with these raids unabatedly. We would like to further urge the public to work closely with us in identifying possible illegal facilities.”

In similar incidents earlier this month, there were two other police interventions involving abalone in the Western Cape.

Two weeks ago, two suspects were arrested after 10 boxes of dried abalone, two bags of frozen abalone and shark fins were discovered at a residence in Gideon Malherbe Crescent, Edgemead. The abalone was said to have been worth well over R1m.

In Lwandle, the Western Cape Flying Squad were on patrol on the N2, close to Lwandle, when they spotted a suspicious vehicle.

The vehicle was stopped for a routine inspection and 9032 units of abalone found. A 33-year-old Delft man was arrested.