Abalone poacher and his criminal associates to spend more time in jail

Abalone poaching mastermind Morne Blignault (47) who is already serving a 20-year sentence, will be behind bars for a further five years.

Morne Blignault was arrested in June 2016 by the Port Elizabeth Hawks Serious Organised Investigation team and charged on two counts of racketeering and one count for operating a fishing establishment without a permit.

He was arrested with Frederick Nance (22), William Nance (55), Petrus Smith (34), Jacobus Naumann (37) and his ex-wife Marshelle Blignault (42).

Between 2014 and 2016, the Hawks conducted a project driven investigation, into an abalone syndicate. Blignaut and his accomplices were the subject of a project driven investigation.  Investigations established that from the July 2013 to August 2014, the syndicate made a total of R67,2 million from their criminal activities.

With overwhelming evidence stacked against him, Blignault opted to plead guilty in September last year and was subsequently sentenced to an effective 20 years whilst his co accused continued with the court hearings.

In April this year Naumann, Marshelle Blignault, Smith and the Nance’s freedom came to an abrupt end when they were sentenced to a combined 87 years direct imprisonment on similar charges.

Marshelle Blighnault was sentenced to 12-years, Naumann and Smith received 24 years each, Frederick Nance 27 years and William Nance was sentenced to either a fine of R20 000 or 18 months imprisonment.

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Last week the High court added more misery to Blignault Snr, his son Morne Jnr (27), Paul Bezuidenhout (23), Simphiwe Abednigo Kosi (47), Jacob Johannes Naumann (37) and Daniel Jan Prinsloo (33) after they were convicted and sentenced varying sentences on five counts of racketeering and contravening the Marine Living Resources Act.

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Blignault masterminded and financed the illegal poaching of abalone worth R450 000 in July 2017.  The five enterprise members were involved in the pilfering of abalone in Port Elizabeth which was later transported to Cape Town or Johannesburg.

Blignault Jnr escaped imprisonment and was given a five year suspended sentence while his father was sentenced to an effective 20 years of which 15 years would run concurrently with his previous 20 year sentence following his conviction in a previous case.

Naumann who was also convicted and sentenced along with Blignault previously, was sentenced to 12 years, seven of which would run concurrently with the 12 years he is currently serving.

Prinsloo, who has a previous conviction of theft was sentenced to three years while Bezuidenhout and Kosi also received a five year suspended sentence.

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