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Zim man jailed in SA along with Chinese accomplice over R10m abalone

By Thupeyo Muleya

A 36-year-old Zimbabwean man, Lawrence Muroma, and his Chinese accomplice, Qing Quen Feng (28) have been jailed for one year by a South African court for illegally dealing in the endangered abalone shellfish worth R10 million.

Lawrence Muroma and Qing Quen
Lawrence Muroma and Qing Quen

Muroma and Quen have been languishing in remand prison following their arrest in Western Cape in May this year.

A Cape Town Regional Magistrate Court sentenced them to one year effective in jail each for abalone dealing and money laundering.

The two men were arrested during a sting operation by the neighbouring country’s elite police, the Hawks on May 16, while travelling in a Hino truck and a white Audi along the N7 highway as they headed towards Malmesbury.

Western Cape spokesperson for the Hawks, Ms Zinzi Hani said the duo had been charged for possession and transporting abalone in terms of the Marine Living Resources Act 18 of 1998. She said the accused persons pleaded guilty to all charges adding that the two vehicles, the Hino truck and the Audi were forfeited to the State as part of the sentence.

“They were arrested after members of our Serious Organised Crime Investigation, Crime Intelligence, and officials from the Department of Environmental Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) acted on information concerning the transportation of illegal abalone,” she said.

Ms Hani said the accused persons were travelling in the Hino truck and a white Audi along the N7 highway when they were stopped at a service station in Philadelphia for searches leading to the discovery of the dried abalone which was hidden in a false compartment beneath.

The Hino truck, she said, was being driven by Muroma while Feng was driving the Audi.

“The vehicles were then taken to Philadelphia police station for further investigation, where it was discovered that the 70 boxes contained 23 896 dried abalones with an estimated street value of R9.9 million,” said Ms Hani.

She said the team also confiscated more than R50 000 cash from Muroma and Quen.

In the last five years, six people have been arrested by SAPS smuggling the shellfish to Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.

The trade of abalone shellfish, which is regarded as an 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. The Herald

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