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Two men were nabbed in the Western Cape driving a truck loaded with abalone estimated at R28m, police said on Tuesday evening.
Provincial police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Andre Traut said the truck was heading to Gauteng.
Traut said the suspects were arrested through “an intelligence driven operation” on Tuesday night.
“An intelligence driven operation last night in Touws River landed two suspects behind bars for being in possession of a truck load of abalone with an estimated street value of R28m.
“Information of a truck transporting abalone to Gauteng on the N1 freeway was pursued and near Rooikoppies, the truck was stopped and inspected by SAPS members. Two male suspects, aged 37 and 31, were arrested and detained. They are scheduled to make a court appearance soon in Touws River,” said Traut.
Western Cape Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant General Khombinkosi Jula commended his members for the arrest and their endeavours to break the back of abalone syndicates in the province.
Last week, a father and his two sons received hefty fines and suspended sentences in the Western Cape High Court for abalone poaching, money laundering and racketeering.
André Johannes Minnaar, 61, Rudolf Albertus Minnaar, 41, and Marthinus Gys Minnaar, 37, were linked to a syndicate that operated illegal abalone facilities.
Abalone being dried in another room. (Supplied)
They entered into a plea and sentencing agreement with the State and admitted that they were part of a syndicate that operated from various premises in the Western Cape and Gauteng, where wet abalone was delivered, stored, dried and packaged.
The syndicate transported poached abalone for processing at properties in the Western Cape, before delivering the end products to Gauteng.
The court sentenced each of them to five years’ imprisonment, wholly suspended for five years on stringent conditions.
André and Rudolph were additionally fined R100 000 each, with an alternative eight years’ imprisonment for money laundering and abalone poaching. Half of this sentence was suspended for five years with stringent conditions as well.
Effectively, the pair will pay R50 000, while Marthinus was additionally sentenced to another eight years’ imprisonment for abalone poaching, which was wholly suspended for five years with stringent conditions.