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S v Miller

19 March 2018

High Court of the Republic of South Africa, Western Cape Division, Cape Town

Case No. SS 13/2012

Date: 19 March 2018

Judge: Gamble, J

This matter concerned the handing down of sentences for accused who had been convicted of offences in terms of the Marine Living Resources Act, 1998 in that they were caught in the unlawful possession or control for commercial purposes of varying quantities of abalone as well as the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, 1998 in that they conducted (or were associated with the running of) an unlawful enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity.

In determining the sentences of the accused, the Court took into account evidence relating to the impact abalone poaching on wild abalone stock in South Africa, the marine environment, coastal communities and the public fiscus. Having heard the relevant evidence, the Court found that abalone poaching, and all environmental crimes are not “victimless crimes” as has always been the perception. It held that direct imprisonment is the only suitable sentence of crimes of this gravity.

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Section 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996

Everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that prevent pollution and ecological degradation; promote conservation; and secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.

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