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Chinese nationals sentenced for possession of R6.5 million abalone

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Two Chinese nationals were sentenced in the Khayelitsha Priority Court on Monday after they were found in possession of abalone at an illegal fish processing facility.

Chaoyuan He, 28, and Jie Jun Liang, 27, were arrested during a joint operation by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation’s (known as Hawks) Serious Organised Crime Investigation team based in Bellville, Crime Intelligence Counter Narcotics and Gangs Western Cape, as well as the Department of Forestry, Fishery and the Environment.

The duo entered into a plea agreement with the State.

The Western Cape spokesperson for the Hawks, Warrant Officer Zinzi Hani said they were arrested in October 2021.

Abalone seized during the joint operation. Picture: Hawks

“In October 2021, the members executed a search warrant at Welgemoed in Bellville. On arrival at the premises, it was established that the premises were being used as an illegal fish processing facility. They discovered and seized 11,321 units of dried abalone with an estimated value of approximately R6.5 million.

“Four suspects were arrested, two Chinese males and two Zimbabwean males who were found on the premises.

“They were eventually arrested and charged with operating an illegal fish processing establishment and the illegal possession of abalone,” Hani said.

All four suspects were granted bail.

Abalone seized during the joint operation. Picture: Hawks

They faced charges of landing, selling, receiving, or possession of fish taken in contravention of Section 44(2) of the Marine Living Resources Act, Act 18 of 1998.

Both He and Liang were sentenced to a fine of R1 million or five years imprisonment, which is wholly suspended for a period of five years.

On charges of operating a fish processing establishment without a right in contravention of Section 18(1) of the Marine Living Resources Act, Act 18 of 1998, both were sentenced to a fine of R1 million or five years imprisonment, which is wholly suspended for a period of five years.

Liang was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, wholly suspended for a period of five years for entering, remaining, or departing from the Republic in contravention of Section 49(1) of the Immigration Act, Act 13 of 2002.

Further, the court granted a confiscation order of R200,000 for the benefit received by Chaoyuan He and he was ordered to pay the amount into the Criminal Asset Recovery Account (Cara).

The court also granted a confiscation order of R50,000 for the benefit received by Jie Jun Liang and he was also ordered to pay the amount into the Cara.

The case against the Zimbabwean nationals, William Richard Munetsi, 30, and Talnaka Basierawere, 27, was postponed until May 9, for finalise a plea agreements in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act.

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