Fisheries Dept denies losing its grip on abalone poaching along Overberg coast
The head of DEFF's monitoring and surveillance team, Nkosinathi Dana, agrees that there have been increased reports of poaching in the coastal villages of Kleinmond and Betty's Bay.
However, Dana has denied a News24 report claiming that law enforcement officers are struggling to cope with the onslaught of abalone syndicates in the area.
A number of Betty's Bay residents have told News24 that they live in fear of the poachers brazenly operating in their community.
Dana says anti-poaching operations are ongoing in the marine protected area.
He says there have been 13 arrests linked to abalone poaching in Kleinmond since the beginning of April, shortly after the nationwide lockdown started.
Dana claims that authorities confiscated a total of 2,590 abalone shells, and found another 718 units abandoned during these arrests.
He insists that DAFF inspectors regularly patrol the area along with other law enforcement agencies and CapeNature rangers, although he says the Covid-19 pandemic has presented some challenges.
In June, Dana says officials busted an abalone processing facility where a suspect in the case was found to be a Kleinmond resident.
More than 13,000 units of dried abalone and over 18,000 shucked abalone shells were seized during the operation.
"The poachers have taken their chances during this [lockdown] period", he tells CapeTalk host John Maytham.
There have been increased reports of poaching in the area... it is also true that poachers are operating in groups.Nkosinathi Dana, Director of Monitoring and Surveillance - Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries
The reports are true that residents in the area are afraid of being threatened by the poachers but it's not entirely correct that the law enforcement are overwhelmed to the point of not being able to do anything.Nkosinathi Dana, Director of Monitoring and Surveillance - Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries
Law enforcement officers and our inspectors patrol together in that area.Nkosinathi Dana, Director of Monitoring and Surveillance - Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries
It's not only that area where we have issues with poaching.Nkosinathi Dana, Director of Monitoring and Surveillance - Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries
It's not out of control... The joint law enforcement agencies are actually dealing with the situation, not only in Kleinmond but in the whole of the Overberg region.Nkosinathi Dana, Director of Monitoring and Surveillance - Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries
Listen to the discussion on Afternoon Drive with John Maytham:
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