On Wednesday, January 5, the abalone trade in the Western Cape were dealt a heavy blow when abalone with an estimated value of R700 000 was confiscated during a combined operation at Plettenberg Bay.
According to SAPS, at about 9pm, SAPS Sea Border unit, Rural Flying Squad, South African National Parks, Bitou Municipal Law Enforcement and a local security company operationalized information about illicit activities when they embarked on an operation in the bushes near The Crags.
Three men were caught with a large quantity of abalone in their possession. Two of them fled the scene on foot, but their freedom was short-lived when the team caught up with them. The police arrested the suspects and confiscated 2973 units of abalone as well as various diving equipment.
All three suspects aged 25, 32 and 36 remain in police custody. The trio is expected to appear in the Plettenberg Bay Magistrates’ court today, January 7 and are facing charges of illegal possession of abalone.
The find was handed over to inspectors attached to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for safekeeping and disposal thereof.
Western Cape Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Thembisile Patekile, lauded the team for their vigilance in pursuing the suspects and the ultimate confiscation of the find. Lt Gen Patekile said: “This endeavour is part of our integrated approach when we embark on various Safer Festive Season operations. The protection of our living marine resources is of utmost importance in this province, especially to the economy. These interventions will continue as part of our concerted efforts to bring the unlawful harvesting and trafficking of our marine resources along the coast to a halt.”