Robben Island was the scene of an evade and pursue on Tuesday between law enforcement authorities and alleged abalone poachers stranded at sea.
Police and department of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries anti-poaching staff took to the area in the dead of night to act on information of poaching activity near the shore of the iconic island, which once held political prisoners such as Nelson Mandela.
While patrolling the island about 2am on Tuesday, the officers spotted numerous boats. The vessels sped off when the police were spotted, said spokesperson Siyabulela Malo.
The old adage, “no honour among thieves” played out as the boats sped off, leaving the alleged abalone poachers floundering in the open ocean.
Seventeen men were arrested for transgressing the Marine Living Resource Act and being in possession of prohibited gear in a listed area.
According to Malo no abalone was found in their possession
On Tuesday afternoon, authorities were then made aware that there were several alleged abalone poachers still on Robben Island, and vessels were preparing to fetch them.
Malo said the members conducted a further search at Robben Island’s Murray’s Bay and arrested seven suspects found hiding between the rocks outside the harbour wall dressed in diving gear. Eight diving kits were confiscated.
The 24 suspects, aged between 21 and 50, are from Hermanus, Hout Bay, Kleinmond and Grassy Park. The suspects are expected to make a court appearance in the Cape Town magistrate’s court on Thursday.