Government officials in court for abalone smuggling
Several people - including government officials - involved a large abalone smuggling network were granted bail in the Cape Town District Court on Wednesday.
Of the nine department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries personnel believed to have converted the local anti-poaching office in Gansbaai into criminal enterprise‚ only two did not receive bail.
The rest were released on R20‚000 bail each‚ with strict travel conditions‚ and were ordered to show face to their nearest police stations three times per week.
The bail information for the nine alleged abalone smuggling "kingpins"‚ who appeared with the DAFF officials‚ includes a long list of previous convictions‚ many related to abalone smuggling.
At least one of them is also alleged to be involved in the high profile investigation into the murder of Minstrel boss and abalone smuggling kingpin Russel Jacobs.
Jacobs was gunned down in Blue Downs last year at his scrap yard. It was reported that‚ at the time‚ he faced charges of racketeering related to abalone smuggling and a money laundering case.
Only three of the men did not receive bail. Five were released on R50‚000 bail each‚ while another man received R30‚000 bail.
The group was arrested earlier this year in an undercover police operation aimed at taking down the syndicates which have wreaked havoc on abalone stocks between Cape Town and Cape Aghulas.
The rampant poaching has been linked to many social problems‚ including the spread of drugs and petty theft and robbery.