Tobani Njombela (44) and Thandinkosi Ngqulovu (44) appeared at Hermanus Magistrates Court last Friday facing an assortment of charges ranging from racketeering, Corruption and defeating the ends of justice.
Njombela was traced and arrested on 21 March 2019, in Gans Bay while Ngqulovu was traced and arrested in October 2018 in the same area. The case against Njombela was postponed to the 28 of March for a formal bail application. Ngqulovu's case has been transferred to the Regional Court and he is expected back at court on 28 March 2018, whilst he remains out on bail.
It is alleged that the duo had been on the run since the arrest of the other suspects on the 5 of March 2018 during the termination of a project driven investigation that ensued as an inquiry in August 2016. The operation was carried out by a joint multidisciplinary team led by the Hawks, together with the TRT, Task Force, AFU and DAFF officials.
These charges are stemming from the alleged abalone syndicate that operated in the Overberg areas. Njombela and Ngqulovu were the outstanding suspects from the initially arrested twenty (20) suspects on the 5th of March 2018 which included nine DAFF officials.
The officers from the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) allegedly colluded with abalone poachers by illegally selling back the seized abalone and escorting illegal abalone deliveries.
Two of the nine DAFF officials Adam Steven Baadjies and Zihle Diko were on 13 June 2018 denied bail, while all other officials were each granted R20 000 bail with stringent conditions.
Two of the nine alleged abalone syndicate kingpins, Solomon Sauls, Jason Heraldine, were also denied bail while others were granted R50 000 each whilst Dannis Swarts got out on R30 000 bail.
Cotley May entered into a plea sentence agreement with the state. He was ordered to pay R50 000 to the Criminal Assets Recovery Account (CARA) as he had benefited from the proceeds of crime. Furthermore he was on 15 August 2018 sentenced to a R20 000 fine with an alternative 24 month imprisonment. Several other sentences were suspended with stringent conditions.