By Thupeyo Muleya
South African police on Wednesday night intercepted a truck load of abalone fish worth R6 million which was being illegally transported to Zimbabwe via Botswana.
The trade of abalone shellfish, which is regarded as endangered species, is prohibited in most Sadc countries.
Abalone shellfish is a unique type of snail classified under the gastropod phylum-mollusca and is often referred to as the sea ear because of its flattened shape. This type of seafood is considered a delicacy in Asia.
Limpopo police spokesperson Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe said yesterday that the smuggling deal was busted at their border with Botswana (Groblersburg Border Post). He said they were still pursuing the driver and another suspect who took to flight after realising that they had hit a brick wall at the border.
“The South African Police Service in Limpopo made a major breakthrough when millions worth of abalone were recovered during a regular stop and search operation at the Groblersburg Port of Entry,” said Col Ngoepe.
“The recovery, which is considered a step closer in breaking the back of abalone trade, occurred when a truck travelling to Zimbabwe via Botswana was last night (Wednesday), stopped by the police at the search point of the border post.
During the search, the driver and his crew jumped off, ran away on foot and disappeared in the darkness.
“The police continued searching the truck and found a hidden compartment under the loading bin stashed with bags of potatoes. Inside these bags, there were 1 350 kilograms of Abalone with the estimated value of R6 million”.
He said initial indication were the consignment was heading to Zimbabwe though the origin and the exact destination of the loot was still under investigations.
He said anyone with information that can lead to the arrest of these suspects, may contact Captain Richard Boshomane on +2779 894 5501 or the crime stop number +27860010111, the crime line SMS 32211 or the nearest police station. The Herald.