The South African police have dedicated telephone lines to anonymous tip-offs so that the public can feel secure in reporting illegal activity. Many abalone busts have been made thanks to public tip-offs and police have created channels through which citizens can report suspicious activities in their communities without fearing confrontation by the guilty parties.
A concerned member of the Philippi community in Cape Town reported suspicious activity, which lead to the arrest of four suspects and abalone to the value of R5000 in February 2014. In September of the same year, a much larger bust was made in Gansbaai. The confiscated abalone had an estimated street value of R775 000. This bust was also the result of tip-offs from concerned citizens.
Despite the overwhelming success linked to tip-offs, community participation is not always experienced. A bust that occurred in Hermanus in May 2014 had seen retaliation from the local community as they stoned the police and blocked the freeway by burning tyres.
The threat posed by dealing with criminals and the public violence that may occur during house searches and busts has been the cause of a union between the South African Police Service (SAPS) and other organizations, such as the City of Cape Town's Metro Police. In January 2014, officers from both the national SAPS and the provincial Metro Police were successful in confiscating abalone and arresting suspects in the West Coast town of Atlantis. The abalone had an estimated value of R1.6 million.
Public awareness and tip-offs have a strong record of success and had led to the confiscation of more than 10 000 units of abalone and the arrest of four men, one a Chinese national, in four different operations across Cape Town in February 2012.
In a joint-operation by several officials of the Monitoring, Compliance and Surveillance-unit (MCS) of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), the Hawks and the Environmental Crime Investigation Unit of SANParks a raid on a house in Vredelust, Bellville, that was used as a drying processing facility, lead to the arrest of a Chinese national and the confiscation of 5 736 dried abalone (396.7kg), as well as various drying processing equipment.
In another raid on a house in Portlands, Mitchell's Plain, following information from the public about abalone that was dropped off at this house, 2 522 units of abalone (302.3kg) were confiscated and one suspect was apprehended while another one ran away.
In the first incident, 1 574 units of abalone (248kg) were confiscated and in the second, 285 units of shucked abalone and 30 units of unshucked abalone were confiscated.
South African Police Service
Cape Town Government