Police in Gqeberha are leaving no stone unturned as they clamp down on illegal abalone activity in the metro while at the same time, perpetrators are feeling the pinch in their pockets.
This week, several intelligence driven operations were conducted which resulted in the arrests of suspects and the confiscation of abalone and equipment totalling millions of rand.
On Wednesday, 10 May 2023 at about 08:00, members from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environmental Affairs followed up on information of a vehicle that was stationery at a retail shop in Standford Road in Extension 24 in Bethelsdorp.
As officials approached the vehicle, the driver and the passenger alighted form the vehicle and attempted to flee on foot. They were swiftly apprehended. On searching the vehicle, 10 plastic bags of abalone were found on the back seat of the car.
A total of 936 units of abalone were confiscated. The VW Polo was also seized for further investigation. The estimated street value of the abalone is R187 200. The suspects were detained on charges of illegal possession and transportation of abalone.
In another unrelated incident, ten suspects were arrested in a joint operation carried out by DPCI and Public Order Policing Unit at a house in Whiteleaf Avenue in Algoa Park.
At about 06:45 on Thursday, 11 May 2023, police swooped in at the house and found suspects busy offloading bags of abalone. A total of 1, 629 units together with a Ford Focus vehicle were confiscated. The estimated value of the abalone is R500 000. The suspects were detained on charges of illegal possession of abalone.
The illegal trade was dealt a further blow when three suspects aged between 30 and 50 (2 males and a female) were arrested at a processing facility in Kruisrivier in Kariega on Thursday, 11 May 2023. The arrests were executed after police operationalised information received of the facility. A total of 4,274 units of abalone as well as equipment totaling over R1,2 million were seized.
Also on Thursday, 11 May 2023, in a well-coordinated, joint operation executed by Border Policing with the assistance of Border Security Crime Intelligence, Gqeberha K9 Unit, Anti-Gang Unit, Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environmental Affairs as well as NMB Metro Police, another abalone processing establishment was uncovered at a smallholding in Rocklands.
A total of 26, 169 units of abalone (wet and dried), gas tanks, burners, industrial fans, chemicals as well as a generator were confiscated. The estimated street value of the abalone is over R20 million.
All the arrested suspects will be appearing in their respective magistrate courts soon.
Provincial Commissioner, Lt Gen Nomthetheleli Mene commended the assiduous work of the police including members from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environmental Affairs in ensuring that marine life is protected from greedy and ambitious poachers. ‘It is clear that illegal abalone trade is rife and thriving in Nelson Mandela Bay and Kouga regions of the Eastern Cape. We will continue in our efforts to dismantle these organised syndicates whose activities also impact on serious and violent crimes. The exceptional work done by our teams sends a clear message to criminals that we are not sleeping and that we will find and uncover your illegal activities,’ added Lt Gen Mene.