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Two caught after daring abalone heist

BUFFELJAGSBAAI – Two Malawian nationals were arrested last week with a truckload of stolen abalone with an estimated value of nearly R1 million.

The suspects were arrested between the Uilenkraalsmond and the Kleinbaai turn-offs, approximately 20 km from an abalone farm in Buffeljagsbaai, where the abalone had been stolen during a daring heist on Monday 7 September.

At that stage, said authorities, the police were still unaware of the robbery at the farm. The robbery only came to light after further investigation into the large haul of abalone.

The criminals reportedly gained entry to the abalone farm in Buffeljagsbaai, outside Gansbaai, through the fence. An unknown number of them overpowered the security guards and stole a remote control for the gate as well as firearms, cellphones and the abalone.

Two of the security guards reportedly suffered minor head injuries as result of being pistol whipped by the assailants.

Brigadier Donovan Heilbron, Overberg Police Cluster commander, reports that the robbers loaded a large amount of abalone into a truck they had driven to the scene.

One of the suspects arrested is believed to be the owner of the truck.

“We believe more suspects were involved, as the firearms that were stolen during the robbery were not found in the suspects’ possession,” said Heilbron.

“We are following up all possible leads to determine who else was involved and to apprehend them.”

He said the investigation is in a “serious and sensitive” state, with detectives following up all possible leads and scrutinising CCTV footage.

The brigadier also gave the assurance that more operations such as the one in Buffeljagsbaai last week will be held. During the operation the police in conjunction with the SA National Defence Force and Overstrand Law Enforcement and traffic officials arrested one suspected poacher and confiscated a rubberduck filled with abalone.

“There has been a visible increase in poaching activities in recent times,” said Heilbron. “This can be linked to the rise in unemployment, as many unemployed people see poaching as an easy way to earn money. This is further exacerbated by an influx of people from the Cape Metropole.”

The suspects, aged 37 and 39, appeared in the Hermanus Magistrates’ Court on Thursday 10 September on charges of business robbery and the possession of suspected stolen goods. The case was postponed for further investigation. The accused remain in custody.

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