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Fisheries officials in court

The investigation into an alleged abalone (perlemoen) poaching syndicate has almost been finalised, as the state awaits detailed cellphone records, the Cape Town Regional Court heard on Wednesday 25 July.

Plea bargains were also a possibility and some accused could testify on behalf of the state in terms of Section 204 of the Criminal Procedure Act, state advocate Blaine Lazarus said.

Nineteen people, including nine marine inspectors from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) stationed in Gansbaai, were arrested in March.

It is alleged department officials sold confiscated abalone back to others, who were also taken into custody on suspicion of being part of the syndicate.

The officials also allegedly escorted illegal consignments of abalone. The charges against them include corruption and racketeering. Lazarus said on Wednesday that police had arrested one more person in connection with the case, who was applying for bail in another court.

The accused are expected back in court on 29 August and the case could be transferred to the High Court.

-News24

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