Six suspects were arrested on Wednesday, in four different operations, for abalone poaching. The South African Police Services (SAPS) are closing in on the lucrative and illegal trade of abalone in the Western Cape.
The increase poaching is attributed to their trade value and availability along the Western Cape shores. South African abalone is popular among Chinese as it is considered a delicacy and there is a high demand for it.
In one incident, a Chinese man was arrested for being in possession of R250 000 worth of abalone, in a confirmed hijacked vehicle. Police reported that 4297 units of abalone were found in his possession.
The vehicle was spotted by members of the Flying Squad and was pulled over in Koeberg road for further inspection. SAPS spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Andrè Traut said, “The investigation led to the discovery that the vehicle was hijacked in Mfuleni earlier this month with abalone inside with an estimated street value of R 250 000.”
A second arrest was made in Table View, when two suspects were found with 3150 units of abalone worth an estimated R750 000, after receiving a tip-off. Suspects are aged 22 and 27.
“The suspects were followed to their residence where their vehicle and residence were searched. In addition to the abalone, equipment to dry and prepare abalone were also confiscated,” said police.
Another arrest was made in Swellendam and 1633 units of abalone worth R300 000 was confiscated.
A final arrest in the hunt for abalone poachers was made in Melbosstrand after a 22-year-old was arrested late on Wednesday night – he was found with 908 units of abalone at a street value of R126 000. “Police members spotted six poachers at Holbaai leaving the water and managed to apprehend one of the suspects. The other five fled and are yet to be arrested.”
All of the suspects are due to make an appearance in the respective courts in the Western Cape.