Progress made in rooting out abalone criminals

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pretoria - The sentencing of three foreign nationals for the illegal possession of abalone is proof of the progress made in curbing such crimes, says the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF).

The Cape Town Regional Court on Wednesday sentenced Chinese nationals Zhi Wen and Wei Lin to 30 months imprisonment each, while Jason Ho was sentenced to 36 months behind bars.

"It is the first time ever that a sentence of this nature has been imposed on foreign nationals for abalone related crimes," said departmental spokesperson Carol Moses said on Thursday.

The men, who were arrested in Cape Town in July last year, will serve their sentence in a local correctional facility.

A joint operation involving officials from the Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Unit of the department and members of the SAPS Organised Crime Unit led to the arrest of the three men.

The operation followed extensive surveillance on two suspected illegal abalone processing establishments in Table View and Parklands, where 14 140 and 16 976 units of dried and processed abalone respectively were found. A further 1 093 Units of wet abalone were also seized at the Table View premises.

"This case may also be linked to an abalone export syndication which is under investigation and is expected to be heard in court soon. Due to the collapse of most abalone fisheries in the world, coupled with the drastic decline of many wild fish stocks, South Africa has become a target for syndicates wanting to plunder its wild abalone resources," explained Moses.

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