Alleged perlemoen poaching syndicate case heads to High Court

The case involving 19 men and women charged with corruption and racketeering in an alleged perlemoen syndicate will be transferred to the Western Cape High Court, the Cape Town Regional Court heard on Wednesday.

The 19 suspects, nine of whom are marine inspectors from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, were arrested in March.

Prosecutor Blain Lazarus told the court on Wednesday that the case had been referred to the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP).

"We have already started arranging pre-trial and transfer dates as soon as the certificate is obtained from the NDPP," Lazarus said.

The group can only be charged once the NDPP has authorised prosecution, as required by section 2(4) of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

He added that the investigation of the suspects' phone records still needed to be finalised.

The alleged syndicate is believed to have operated in Gansbaai, Hermanus, Hawston, Pearly Beach, Bredasdorp, Stanford and Kuilsriver.

They are all expected to return to the Regional Court on October 3.

It is alleged that the department officials sold back confiscated perlemoen to buyers, who were also taken into custody on suspicion of being part of the syndicate.

The officials also allegedly escorted illegal consignments of perlemoen.

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