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.