Two dozen poachers arrested after cat-and-mouse chase on Robben Island

Some of the 24 alleged abalone poachers who were arrested at Robben Island on Tuesday.
Some of the 24 alleged abalone poachers who were arrested at Robben Island on Tuesday.
Image: SAPS

Robben Island was the scene of a game of cat-and-mouse on Tuesday between law enforcement authorities and alleged abalone poachers stranded at sea.

Police and department of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries anti-poaching staff took to the area in the dead of night to act on information of poaching activity near the shore of the iconic island, which once held political prisoners such as Nelson Mandela.

While patrolling the island about 2am on Tuesday, the officers spotted numerous boats. The vessels sped off when the police were spotted, said spokesperson Siyabulela Malo. 

The old adage, “no honour among thieves” held true, as the boats sped off, leaving the  alleged abalone poachers floundering in the open ocean.

Seventeen men were arrested for transgressing the Marine Living Resource Act and being in possession of prohibited gear in a listed area.

“However, no abalone was found in their possession,” said Malo.

On Tuesday afternoon, authorities were then made aware that there were several alleged poachers still on the island, and that vessels were preparing to fetch them.

“The members conducted a further search at Robben Island's Murray’s Bay and arrested seven suspects found hiding between the rocks outside the harbour wall dressed in diving gear. Eight diving kits were confiscated,” said Malo.

“The 24 suspects, aged between 21 and 50, are from Hermanus, Hout Bay, Kleinmond and Grassy Park. They are expected to make a court appearance in the Cape Town magistrate’s court on Thursday,” said Malo.

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