Two key abalone poaching syndicate members were arrested on Friday 6 May in a joint operation between South African National Parks (SANParks) Environmental Crime Investigation, and the South African Police Services Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) in Gqeberha.
SANParks Managing Executive Parks, Property Mokoena, said the two were charged with bribery of SANParks officials and corruption. A case docket was registered.
According to Mokoena, this significant breakthrough follows a two month long joint investigation named Project Perfect Storm, after the two suspects approached an Addo Elephant National Park Field Ranger to assist them with the illegal diving and catching of abalone at Bird Island – a marine protected area within the Addo Elephant National Park.
“The official also had to inform the syndicate when it was safe to dive at Bird Island, what the weather and sea conditions were like at the Island and when SANParks or other Law-Enforcement vessels were responding to abalone poaching incidents at or near Bird Island.”
“Earlier this month, the man offered the undercover member a R20 000 bribe to turn a blind eye on their illegal activities. On Friday, 6 May 2022, during the covert operation, the suspects were arrested by DPCI after a further amount of R10 000 bribe was paid to an undercover agent,” said Mokoena.
“However the unwavering dedication and excellence by the Ranger involved paid off. It goes to show the quality of the rangers we have in Addo Elephant National Park and SANParks. This is reflected in the standards they set for themselves not to allow poachers and criminals to bribe them.”
He said this arrest of well-orchestrated criminal activity has struck a heavy blow against organized crime on abalone syndicates both in the Addo marine protected area and across the Eastern Cape Province. “The actions of the Ranger deserve recognition and should provide inspiration to all other rangers.”
The arrested suspects are Raymond Mark Taylor and Roland Hudson. Both suspects appeared in the Port Elizabeth New Law Courts on 09 May, where Taylor was released on R150 000 bail and Hudson was released on R20 000 bail.
The investigation continues and more arrests cannot be ruled out, SANParks said.