On Sunday 29 November the team consisting of the South African National Defence Force, Air Force, SAPS Sea Border Patrol Unit, SAPS Air Wing, SAPS Special Task Force, Anti-Gang Unit, Overberg SAPS, Overstrand Law Enforcement, Overstrand Traffic, Cape Nature and officials of the Department of Environmental Affairs, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) with the assistance of Bidvest Proteacoin NGO targeted Dyer Island near Gansbaai where poaching activities are rife.
The operation is part of a targeted approach, including investigations into the links between abalone poaching, gangsterism and organised crime.
During the operation over the weekend poachers were targeted from the air, on water and on land. Two vessels, which were identified beforehand through investigations as being involved in poaching activities, as well as two vehicles (a Mazda double cab LDV and SUV Land Rover) were confiscated. The police also confiscated 5122 units abalone during operations executed in Eluxolweni and Buffeljagsbaai near Gansbaai. Members found 576 units shucked abalone during the operation.
Three suspects aged 23, 28 and 41 were arrested on charges of diving in a restricted zone, the illegal possession of 535 units shucked abalone and possession of prohibited gear in Eluxolweni.
Another suspect aged 23 was arrested on charges of diving in a restricted zone and the possession of prohibited gear. He was arrested at Bloubaai, Gansbaai area.
A fifth suspect aged 27 was arrested for the possession of abalone (166 shucked abalone, 18 whole abalone) and defeating the ends of justice in Buffelsjagsbaai, Bredasdorp.
The suspects appeared in the Bredasdorp Magistrate’s Court yesterday (Tuesday, 2020-12- 01).
The suspects’ involvement in organized criminal activities will also be investigated as part of the larger investigation into abalone smuggling syndicates under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA).
This operation is the first in a string of processes which form part of the investigation into abalone smuggling syndicates operating from the Overberg and more arrests are expected to be made in due course.
A number of suspects from the Overberg were also arrested during a similar operation over the weekend near Robben Island. Another suspect was apprehended by members of the Saldanha Sea Border Patrol unit after a high speed chase on the ocean.