18 May 2017

South Africa: Probe Into Corruption Claims in Fishing Rights

Pretoria — The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries says it will work with the Hawks to ensure that there is proper investigation into the corruption allegations in the Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP).

The department said that it has received information about the allegations that could amount to corruption involving a member of the Allocation Team in the current FRAP.

The department said that their offices were visited by members of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, the (Hawks), who executed a search and seizure warrant in person of one of the FRAP members, confiscating a laptop and cellphone.

"The department views the matter in a very serious light thus we have taken a precautionary approach to all activities related to allocations and his relationship with the department. The department will work with the Hawks to ensure that there is proper investigation into the matter.

"The department would like to reiterate its unwavering respect for the rule of law thus, as the law provides that one is innocent until found guilty by the Court of Law. The department would also like it to be stated that it deems the member as innocent until proven guilty by the Court of Law," the department said in a statement.

The department said that it is committed in ensuring that the undergoing FRAP are not compromised or at least are not seen to be compromised, thus "we have taken a decision to suspend the member from the Allocations pending the investigations".

The suspension will also follow the internal processes to deal with any irregularities concerning the matter.

The Delegated Authority in its General Published Reasons for the Decisions on the Allocation of 2015/2016 Fishing Rights and Quantum in the Hake Inshore Trawl Fishery (GPR) states that: "An independent forensic company will be appointed to investigate the accuracy of information submitted by applicants for fishing rights. Such verification will take place during and after the fishing rights allocation process. The forensic company will carry out investigations as and when required by the department".

It further states that: "If any right holder is found to have provided false information or false documents or failed to disclose material information, or had sought to influence the Minister or the Delegated Authority, proceedings in terms of Section 28 of the Marine Living Resources Act (MLRA) will be undertaken which may result in the revocation, suspension, cancellation, alteration or reduction of the right granted".

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