Nineteen of the twenty men who appeared in the magistrate’s court last week because of alleged mother-of-pearl smuggling, paid in cash shortly after their appearance. The bail ranges from R2 000 to R100 000.
“Remember, if bail conditions are broken, you can be arrested until the case is finalized and it can take months, even years.” This is how terrestrial MP le Roux warned that Frank Barends, chief accused with 19 other accusers, had appeared on various charges of racketeering, money laundering, mother-of-pearl smuggling and other abalone-related offenses.
Members of the alleged sidekat who have been operating for more than 12 years were arrested last Tuesday in collaboration with the Hawks. Police and Hawks, assisted by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, trapped the men in an operation called Black Leaves. Among the accused are a police officer, Daniel Oktober of Gansbaai, who has been in the police for 25 years, and two SAPS members of Beaufort West, among others. Frank Maritz and others.
Boltwin Boezak, who has already served 23 and 11 years respectively. Media engagement in the case was so high that nuclear officers, photographers and journalists had to take turns to attend court proceedings. Friends and relatives of the accused could not access because the courtroom was so full and stood outside the building for hours waiting for news. Adv. Anthony Broadway, the defense’s name, pretended to be affidavits made by the accused during bail applications.
The statements argued the accused are well-known people in their community, with their own businesses and families. Barends (39) of Gansbaai, described by Helene Booysen, senior state lawyer, as the alleged master brain of the syndicate, has previous convictions for, among other things, the illegal possession of abalone. Other issues that are still against him are also abalone-related and will be heard in Khayalitsha’s court. Another issue related to the violation of the Income Tax Act is also pending against him.
It was argued that the syndicate smuggled abalone to the value of several million rand in 1998. The investigation into the syndicate has been around for more than 12 years. Police as well as Interpol are still looking for Ran Wei, a Chinese suspect, but the case continues. Many of the suspects already have previous offenses or cases being investigated against them. Four of the suspects, who allegedly managed the syndicate, received bail with stringent conditions. Barends’s bail amounted to R100 000, while Christiaan Crous (41) of Stanford paid R50 000, Donovan Dickson (40) of Gansbaai R50 000 and Jody Behr (41) of Stanford R10 000.