One of the accused in the case against an alleged abalone smuggling syndicate involving nine DAFF officials, was gunned down in cold blood in Gansbaai earlier this week.
Donovan Williams (35) was reportedly shot several times at close range at about 15:35 on Monday 8 April.
Lieutenant colonel Winston Coetzee, commander of the Gansbaai Police, confirmed that Williams sustained several wounds to the head and face and died at the scene.
“The deceased was in Industrial Circle to fetch his boat that had been repaired. He was approached by an unidentified suspect who fired several shots at him from close range. The suspect fled from the scene on foot,” Coetzee reported. “At this stage it appears that only one suspect was involved, but we haven’t excluded the possibility that more suspects could have been involved.”
Nobody else was injured during the shooting and no arrests have been made yet.
Coetzee added that police will investigate whether the incident might be linked to abalone smuggling.
Williams was arrested along with nine DAFF officials and several other alleged members of an abalone smuggling syndicate on 5 March 2018 during a sting operation by the HAWKS, Asset Forfeiture Unit, Tactical Response Team (TRT) and the DAFF Special Investigations Unit.
The nine DAFF officials are accused of colluding with suspected poachers by allegedly selling abalone that had been confiscated during arrests to the syndicate and also escorting illegal shipments to ensure safe delivery.
The accused face several charges including contravening the Marine Living Resources Act, corruption and racketeering. The DAFF officials have since returned to work.
Captain Philani Nkwalase, spokesperson for the Hawks, confirmed that Williams is the second accused in the case, who has died.
“Gert Wentzel died of natural causes in June 2018 while incarcerated at Pollsmoor Prison. This does not affect the case in any way,” said Nkwalase.
One accused was sentenced in August after he entered into a plea bargain with the state. The remaining accused’s trial has since been transferred to the Western Cape High Court where they will appear on Friday 26 April for a pre-trial hearing.
Two more suspects were arrested in recent months. Thandinkosi Ngqulovu (44) was arrested in Gansbaai in October after being on the run for several months. He recently appeared in the Hermanus Magistrates’ Court along with Tobani Njombela (44), who was arrested in March.
“Both suspects are out on bail,” said Nkwalase. “Njombela’s next appearance is scheduled for 30 April. Ndlovu’s case was postponed to 23 April for a regional court date to be set. They will be added to the case with their co-accused at a later stage.”
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