Officials with the Fisheries Branch of the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries will now have to undergo state security checks and vetting practices.
The decision was taken by Fisheries Minister, Senzeni Zokwana, following the arrest of nine Fisheries officials , suspected of being linked to the illicit abalone trade in Gansbaai in the Western Cape.
The officials, who were arrested following a lengthy Hawks investigation, face charges of corruption, racketeering and defeating the ends of justice.
Ministry Spokesperson Bomikazi Molapo says, “We will continue supporting further work that must be done in dealing with this matter. Gansbaai is one of our main abalone poaching areas, and abalone is still poached and being smuggled out of the country, possibly through highly sophisticated organised crime units. We need to ensure that those amongst our departmental ranks are not found to be assisting syndicates.