6 August 2015
Two foreign nationals have been found guilty of being illegally in possession of 2 248 plants, which they collected without the necessary permits or documentation.
The husband and wife team, Jose Maria Aurell Cardona and Maria Jose Gonzalez Puigcarbo, both Spanish citizens, entered into a plea bargain agreement and were sentenced to 12 years imprisonment, which was suspended for five years and a further fine of R 2 million, after being found guilty of illegally picking and being in possession of flora.
On 14 July 2015, the pair were caught by Cape Nature officials near the Knersvlakte Nature Reserve with succulents in their possession without the necessary permits allowing them to be in possession of the flora.
After further investigation, CapeNature Biodiversity Crime Unit and the South African Police Services (SAPS) discovered 14 boxes containing more plants at the guest cottage where Cardona and Gonzalez were staying.
In total Mr. Cardona and Ms. Gonzalez were found in possession of 2 248 plants, which they collected throughout the Northern Cape, Southern Namibia and the northern parts of the Western Cape.
Cardona and Gonzalez were also linked to a website hosted in Spain that offered a wide range of succulent plants for sale, including South African species.
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