Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
South Africa’s organized crime unit has busted another illegal abalone trading deal, arresting nine migrants including Chinese, Kenyans, Somalis, and Zimbabweans in Western Cape, and recovering contraband worth R20 million.
The group aged between 23 and 30 years was arrested during a sting operation involving the hawks and officials from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE), Crime Intelligence, SAPS K9 Overberg Cluster on Tuesday.
Hawks spokesperson for Western Cape, Ms Zinzi Hani confirmed the incident this morning.
“Two Chinese and Zimbabwean migrants aged between 24 and 27 were arrested for operating an illegal abalone processing facility in Welgemoed, Bellville.
Dried abalone units with an approximate value of R6.5 million as well as abalone processing equipment were seized,” she said.
In Stikland, Bellville, Ms Hani said, the team seized more abalone and equipment valued at more than R13 million from a Kenyan and Somali national aged 23 and 30.
She said two more Chinese migrants and a Zimbabwean were arrested by the same team in the Parow area where another illegal processing facility was unveiled.
The official said the suspects were charged for illegally dealing in abalone and will appear in the Bellville Magistrates’ Court tomorrow.
In May the same team arrested a Chinese and Zimbabwean man they found transporting abalone worth R10 million in the same area.
The trade of abalone shellfish, which is regarded as endangered species, is prohibited in most Sadc countries.
Abalone shellfish is a unique type of snail and is often referred to as the sea ear because of its flattened shape.
This type of seafood is considered a delicacy in Asia.