The Hawks in Springbok arrested two suspects for being in possession of endangered succulent plants with an estimated black market value of R168,435.
THE HAWKS in Springbok arrested two suspects for being in possession of conophytum with an estimated value of R168,435.
The two suspects, aged 22 and 28, were arrested by a multi-disciplinary team composed of Springbok DPCI, Upington counter-narcotics, Steinkopf SAPS, and Namakwa public order policing.
Information was received by the team regarding a particular vehicle that was travelling from Port Nolloth to Springbok with protected plants.
“A disruptive operation was conducted and the vehicle was spotted and stopped at the N7 road near Okiep and it was thoroughly searched,” Hawks spokesperson Warrant Officer Nomthandazo Mnisi said.
“During the search, two bags containing 11,229 of conophytum with an estimated street value of R168,435 were recovered.
“The team further confiscated three cellphones and a vehicle that was used in the commission of (an alleged) crime.”
Mnisi said that both suspects are being held in the Springbok police cells pending their first court appearance.
She added that the two suspects are expected to appear before the Springbok Magistrate’s Court on Monday for contravening Section 57 of the National Environmental Management-Biodiversity (Nemba) Act 10 of 2004.
The South African National Biodiversity Institute maintains that conophytum, a genus of South African and Namibian succulent plants, is in high demand in the international horticultural trade. The species is highly vulnerable to population loss and is threatened with over-collection
Between 5,000 and 10,000 specimens have been removed from habitat since March 2019 with rates and volumes of harvesting increasing constantly.