American fined R500,000, banned from SA for 'stealing' protected plants

01 April 2020 - 19:51 By Nomahlubi Jordaan
A man from the US has been fined R500,000 and given a two-year suspended sentence after being found with 337 protected plant species.
A man from the US has been fined R500,000 and given a two-year suspended sentence after being found with 337 protected plant species.
Image: File

A US citizen has been fined R500,000 and given a two-year suspended sentence for being in possession of “protected” succulent plants.

Kalman Kaminar was sentenced in the Cape Town magistrate's court on Wednesday to two years' imprisonment, which was suspended for five years on condition that he was not convicted for illegal possession of succulent plants in that period.

He was also declared an undesirable person and has been banned from entering SA.

He was convicted on two counts of illegal possession of succulent plants declared as protected. The South African Red Plan List declared some of the plants as vulnerable and endangered.

“Following a confiscation order overseen by the Asset Forfeiture Unit, the court ordered the accused to pay R500,000 to the state — R250,000 to be paid into the Criminal Assets Recovery Account and R250,000 to be paid to the Western Cape Nature Conservation Board,” said Western Cape National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila.

“This successful prosecution and sentence emanates from an arrest made by CapeNature officials on November 6 2019 after catching Kaminar and his succulent plant tour guide, David Cummings, near Moordkuil.”

At the time of their arrest, Kaminar was found with 354 plants, of which 337 were protected.

Other plants were found at a guest house he was staying in Robertson, said Ntabazalila.

“Further investigation revealed that the accused arrived in the country on October 29 2019 on a guided tour for various succulent plants. His registered address was in Sea Point, Cape Town, before he and Cummings drove to the Winelands region.

“He had a detailed itinerary with multiple stops in the area where the plants are found, detailed information on plant localities, place names and GPS co-ordinates of specific plants.”

The man was also found with a five-page price list titled “Kal Kaminar — Never Enough Cactus. Hunting Fall Plant Sale 2019 Labels”, which listed various South African succulent plants.

It was revealed in court that Kaminar was linked to a nursery named Never Enough Cactus in Los Angeles, California. He also has a Facebook page bearing the same name.

The court heard that the 738 plants — valued at R780,902 — were obtained without permission


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