Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries fueling illegal abalone trade

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The DA notes the investigation by the Hawks into an alleged R1 million bribe paid to President Jacob Zuma by an abalone dealer. It is not only the latest evidence of a corrupt enterprise that Zuma presided over but exposes the murky world of abalone poaching which has reached crisis levels, especially in the Western Cape.

The blame lies squarely at the feet of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) which currently presides over an opaque process of disposing confiscated abalone. The sale of confiscated abalone remains hidden from public scrutiny, creating opportunities for illegal trade in the sector.

The DA will write to the Minister of DAFF, Senzeni Zokwana, asking that he commits to firm plan on how his Department will open the sale of confiscated abalone to public and Parliament scrutiny.

It is clear that proceeds of the sale of confiscated Abalone is subsidizing the day to day running of the department hence its reluctance to do anything. In doing so, the Department is going against established best practice which dictates that the proceeds of crime should be ring-fenced to fight that crime.

A first step in stopping the illegal trade in abalone will be to bring back green courts. This will ensure that criminal cases are dealt with swiftly and offenders are stopped from further fueling criminality in the sector.

The DA believes that in order to stop criminality in the abalone sector, it is vital that an open and transparent system is instituted as a matter of urgency, starting with the sale of confiscated abalone.

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