A father and his son were each sentenced to 23 years in prison for smuggling perlemoen in what is considered to be a record sentence for this type of crime.
George Kruger‚ 63‚ and his son, Sean‚ whose operation was based in Vredenburg and Table View on the Cape west coast‚ were found guilty of racketeering‚ smuggling‚ money laundering and fraud for attempting to smuggle perlemoen worth R20-million to Hong Kong.
The sentence was handed down on Tuesday in the Khayelitsha Priority Crimes Court in Cape Town.
Two other men were sentenced to 18 and 10 years respectively for their roles in the syndicate‚ while three Chinese men are already serving three-year sentences after entering into plea bargains with the state.
The men were the owners of a fresh produce company set up to smuggle perlemoen to Asia.
More than seven tons of perlemoen would have made it to Hong Kong in 2010 had the shipping company not received a phone call from one of the Hawks’ crack perlemoen sleuths, ordering three containers returned to South Africa.
One container evaded detectives but two others‚ filled with perlemoen hidden in crates of plastic beads‚ were shipped back to Cape Town.
Hawks spokesman Captain Lloyd Ramovha said the sentencing was a boost to the unit’s endeavours to get rid of syndicates that continue to plunder the country’s precious living marine resources.