The Western Cape High Court sentenced Solomon Sauls to 244 years imprisonment following his conviction on charges of abalone poaching and bribery on Monday, February 15. This comes after Sauls admitted to having poached abalone and bribed officials of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

He was subsequently convicted of participating in an enterprise, 16 counts of corruption, two counts of money laundering, 12 counts of Contravention of S44(2) of the Marine Living Resources Act and 10 counts of contravention Marine Living Resources Act of Reg 36(1) (b), according to the National Prosecuting Authority’s Eric Ntabazalila.

The court sentenced him to 244 years for the 42 charges, although because most of the sentences run concurrently he will only serve 18 years imprisonment.

“The 48-year-old father of five is already serving a lengthy prison sentence after he was handed a seven-year sentence in September 2020 for being responsible for delivery and logistics of illegally sourced abalone that was exported. Before then he was serving 14 years imprisonment for his involvement in another syndicate that operated from 2001 until the arrest of its members in 2008,” said Ntabazalila.

“Sauls was in cahoots with nine officials of the Department Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in his corrupt activities. These officials were arrested and are before court on charges including corruption and abalone poaching.”

According to the NPA, Sauls bribed the men and brought back abalone that was confiscated from his team of poachers. He would also stop the officials from confiscating the abalone by telling them that the divers were his. Arrangements would be made for the return of the illegally harvested abalone and he would pay the officials tens of thousands of rands. The officials would then divide the money among themselves.

“This type of offence is of a very serious nature as it involves corrupting government officials into not doing their official duties to protect natural resources. He paid DAFF officials not to arrest and seize abalone of his diving teams. His actions weakened law enforcement efforts to protect abalone which is mostly for commercial purposes and exportation. His actions were driven by greed,” said Advocate Aradhana Heeramun.

Abalone are critically endangered and are on the SASSI Red List. They are considered delicacies in China and other Asian countries, and are heavily poached and sold on the black market.

Picture: Cape Town ETC gallery

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