Robbery number four at warehouse full of confiscated abalone
For the fourth time in three years‚ the government’s stash of confiscated abalone has been stolen out of a guarded store in Cape Town.
Six gunmen held up two guards at the warehouse in Paarden Island late on Friday and left with an undisclosed volume of dried abalone‚ according to police sources. The guards’ firearms and cellphones were also taken.
A third guard who arrived at the scene during the robbery was also held up and robbed of his firearm.
The suspects‚ who wore balaclavas and gloves‚ left in two unmarked vehicles. No one was injured in the incident‚ police sources confirmed.
The warehouse has been robbed four times since 2015. It serves as a central depot for confiscated abalone‚ which historically has been sold to help fund the Department of Agriculture‚ Forestry and Fisheries.
Shellfish from the facility recently also sparked an internal dispute within Daff after it was removed – allegedly without the necessary permission – to be used in a police “sting” operation. The product was then mysteriously returned to the facility late at night‚ prompting further suspicion of irregular activity.
Fisheries minister Senzeni Zokwana has since denied any criminal activity within Daff linked to the warehouse.
Pieter van Dalen‚ the DA fisheries spokesman‚ said the latest break-in raised further questions about Daff’s ability to protect the abalone resource.
“How can we expect the department to do anything about abalone poaching if it cannot even protect the poached and confiscated abalone in its possession?” Van Dalen said on Saturday.
“These [break-ins] will definitely now start occurring more regularly‚ as it is easier to steal dried abalone from the department than to go through all the trouble of diving and drying it.
“The total lack of responsibility from the department makes them a soft target.
“It is really unbelievable and something that only happens in the movies. One would think that after three times and all the attention to this specific crime by parliament and the media that they would put measures in place to secure the abalone better.”
SowetanLIVE has asked the police for official comment on Friday’s robbery.