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Media Release: Seized Vessel to be Used in Anti-Poaching Operations

Date: 2007-11-29

Today, a 13-metre inflatable semi-ridged vessel was handed over to South African National Parks (SANParks) Corporate Investigation Services to be used in marine related anti-poaching operations. The handover of the vessel is the result of a joint anti-poaching operation carried out during November 2005, on Bird Island in Algoa Bay by SANParks and Marine & Coastal Management, a division of the Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism.

The vessel and a trailer, valued at approximately R200 000, were seized during anti-poaching operations involving the illegal harvesting of abalone.

The Asset Forfeiture Unit of the National Prosecuting Authority, with the assistance of SANParks Corporate Investigation Services, was then instrumental in ensuring a successful prosecution process and the eventual forfeiture of the vessel in April this year.

“This is the first time that a vessel has been successfully handed over to SANParks as a result of a joint anti-poaching operation”, said Dr. Mike Knight, head of Park Planning & Development in SANParks, at the handover of the vessel.

Knight said: “This vessel can now be used in continuing efforts to prevent the illegal harvesting of our marine resources”.

SANParks Corporate Investigation Services is responsible for providing support to Park management in the investigation, prevention and combating of environmental crimes and other illegal activity within SANParks.

Background Information

• On the 28th November 2006 the PE High Court granted a Forfeiture Order of a 13-metre boat and other items found at Red House on the 17th November 2005.
• The boat was spotted by MCM officials at Bird Island, declared a Marine Protected Area since 2004, and being used to poach abalone and was chased until its seizure at Red House.
• No one was arrested or prosecuted in this matter.
• According to the AFU, these items were being used either as instrumentalities or proceeds of abalone activities and were accordingly liable to forfeiture whether their owners were prosecuted or not.
• Civil forfeiture is focused on property that has been used to commit an offence and provides for the forfeiture of such property to the State, which may be sold or used to bolster law enforcement. It is not necessary for the perpetrators to be prosecuted or convicted before civil forfeiture is invoked.
• The AFU warns that property owners who do not take measures to stop their assets being used to commit offences are likely to have them confiscated in this manner.

Issued by: South African National Parks

Enquiries: Megan Taplin (née Bradfield)
Regional Communications Manager
Tel: (042) 233-8609 or 083 6508649

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