Legal Aid for perlemoen kingpin
Racketeering and perlemoen poaching kingpin Morné Blignault, sentenced in September to 20 years in jail, indicated to the Port Elizabeth High Court on Friday that he will be applying for Legal Aid ahead of sentencing proceedings in a different case on similar charges.
This after Blignault, 46, fired his legal representative, attorney Alwyn Griebenow, last week when sentencing proceedings were meant to begin.
At the time, Blignault informed the court that he had enlisted the services of defence counsel Hennie Bence, but according to the prosecutor, advocate Martin le Roux, this did not happen.
“[Bence] is not on record in this matter,” Le Roux told judge Glenn Goosen.
Legal Aid representative advocate Johan van der Spuy confirmed to the court that Blignault was in the process of applying for legal representation.
Blignault along with his son Morne Jr, 26, Jacob “Japie” Naumann, 35, Jan “Danie” Prinsloo, 31, and Paul Bezuidenhout, 22, pleaded guilty to charges of racketeering and contravening the Marine Living Resources Act.
In total, the men were charged with 16 counts which stem from an illicit perlemoen smuggling enterprise and an apparent web of organised crime in Nelson Mandela Bay.
The case was postponed to February 1.