Cape Town – A February 28 trial date has been set for nine Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries officials, along with eight others who face charges of racketeering, contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, money laundering, abalone theft, contraventions of the Marine Living Resources Act and defeating the ends of justice.
The charges stem from an investigation that began in August 2016 that focused on alleged abalone smuggling in Gansbaai, Hermanus, Hawston, Bredasdorp, Stanford and Kuils River. The group appeared briefly before Judge Mushtak Parker in the Western Cape High Court on Thursday for pre-trial purposes.
One of the original suspects, Donavan Williams, was killed in a shooting incident earlier this year.
It is alleged that the officials colluded with syndicates by selling seized abalone back to smugglers and facilitating the transportation of illegal abalone. The officials who allegedly colluded with syndicates are Adam Baadjies, Rudolf Louw, Allistair Maans, Craven Mxaku, Linda Nkeleni, Winston Busch, John Karelse, Nomvuyo Motloung and Zihle Diko.
The other accused are Solomon Sauls, Frederick Myburg, Dennis Swarts, Eugene Herandien, Preston Julies, Ricard Malan and Steven Dlovo. Another accused, Cotlet May, entered into a plea bargaining agreement.