Two bust in Cape Town for ‘running’ R1.9m abalone drying facility

Bags of abalone. Image for illustrative purposes only. Photo: SAPS

The Hawks also seized drying equipment and a vehicle valued at R900,000. 

Two people have been arrested for allegedly running an abalone drying facility, the Hawks have said.

The two will appear in the Bellville Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, following a joint operation between the Hawks, Crime Intelligence, the National Intervention Unit, and the provincial department of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries.

Spokesperson Captain Philani Nkwalase said that in addition to the abalone valued at R1.9 million, the Hawks also seized drying equipment and a vehicle valued at R900,000.

Nkwalase told News24 how the unit valued illicit items.

“Our investigators are quite knowledgeable as to how much the street value of these things are out there. They know the prices; they know what is happening because they are experts in that field.”

In unrelated cases, the Hawks also obtained convictions in the Athlone and Bellville magistrates’ courts for various fraud offences.

“Celesani Cele, 31, also known as ‘Sunny’, a waiter at a popular local Table View restaurant, was sentenced to a total of six counts of fraud, for violating the Electronic Communications and Transactions (ETC) Act, 25 of 2002, and money laundering.

“He was sentenced to eight years imprisonment wholly suspended for five years.

He was slapped with a further three years imprisonment wholly suspended for five years for violating the ETC Act 25 of 2002 and an additional seven years imprisonment for money laundering wholly suspended for five years,” said Nkwalase.

Cele was found in possession of a bank card-skimming device and bank card details of various restaurant clients.

Lukhanyo Bokolo, 33, pleaded guilty to fraud after the Hawks found him in possession of suspected cloned cards being used at a store in Tyger Valley Mall in June.

The Hawks have been very active in taking down abalone smuggling and dagga dealing syndicates, but Nkwalase said that the syndicates had very different operating procedures.

“These are two different syndicate groups and cannot be compared. We are in the coastal area so abalone is here and with dagga there has always been an underground market. Seemingly, people are strategically locating with the recent developments in that space but trading remains illegal in the country hence the continued arrests.

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