Police uncover an illegal abalone processing and packaging plant in the West Rand

PARKTOWN – Members of the West Rand Flying Squad on Monday evening, 18 November 2019, operationalised a tip-off about a suspicious truck from Cape Town loaded with fresh abalone headed to a farm in Hekpoort in the West Rand. It is alleged from here, the truck would then transport the processed abalone to Mozambique.

On arrival at the farm, police found what appears to be an illegal processing and packaging plant where both raw and processed abalone was found, estimated at around R4 million pending confirmation by experts.

In the building, police also found equipment and chemicals suspected to be used during the processing and packaging of the abalone.

Further investigations in the early hours of Tuesday, 19 November 2019, led police to two houses on the same farm, where police apprehended seven suspects. Police have taken into custody: the owner of the farm, a man from Cape Town, a Chinese man, three Mozambican men and a local woman.

At the house, police also recovered two illegal firearms with ammunition – one of the firearms has already been confirmed as reported stolen in Klerksdorp, while the second firearm had the serial number filed off.

An undisclosed amount of cash has also been seized for further investigation.

The suspects are facing charges of illegal possession and dealing in abalone; as well as possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition. Police will further engage the Department of Home Affairs to verify the status in the country of the Chinese and Mozambican nationals.

Gauteng Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Elias Mawela has extended a word of appreciation to the multi-disciplinary SAPS team who worked with private security throughout the night to ensure that the suspects are arrested and the criminal activity stopped.

“Our Crime Intelligence plays a very big part in the fight against crime and we appreciate that they are behind most of the successful safer festive season operations that are underway in the Province,” cited General Mawela.

The Provincial Commissioner has also taken this opportunity to remind all members from the SAPS, Metro Police Departments, and Provincial Traffic, that there needs to be a different approach to fighting crime in anticipation of improved results. Everyone must work together to turn the tide against crime. #Zizojika izinto.

Source: South African Police Service