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Six people, including four foreign nationals, were arrested near Pietermaritzburg yesterday morning in what South African Revenue Service (Sars) officials claimed was the country's second largest seizure of perlemoen ever.
Sars spokesman Adrian Lackay said a team of Sars officials, Marine and Coastal Management, the Scorpions and a police special task team converged on the smallholding near Camperdown.
Lackay said between five and six tons of perlemoen, also known as abalone, were found with an estimated street value of about R12million. He said it was the biggest seizure ever in KwaZulu-Natal.
He said the perlemoen was probably collected in the Eastern and Western Cape, then processed at Camperdown before being smuggled out of the country.
"They had a storeroom and had constructed drying racks. There was a heater and fan which helps with in the drying process," he said.
The six are likely to face charges under the Marine Resources Act for possession of fish processing plants and possession of perlemoen without permits.
Perlemoen is listed under the Prohibited and Restricted Goods List and permits are required for exporting it.
In February 12 people were arrested in Pretoria and perlemoen worth about R10million was confiscated.
Also in February two Chinese nationals and a South African man were arrested with perlemoen worth about R7million at a house in Cape Town. - Sapa