'Fear of incarceration led accused to flee'
Driver of perlemoen truck nabbed, back in court, after days on the run
A fear of incarceration sent an employee of a multimillion- rand perlemoen enterprise on the run to Knysna, where he was recognised by a policeman on Wednesday while sitting outside a clothing shop.
Inside the store, the woman family member he was with was nabbed for shoplifting.
Jan “Danie” Prinsloo, 33, a part-time singer who made it into the top 10 of SABC’s Superstar competition in 2010, cried in the Port Elizabeth High Court dock on Thursday as he explained his fear of incarceration to the judge.
Prinsloo had expressed concern about leaving his terminally ill mother who he had been taking care of, and feared the demise of his music career.
Prinsloo, who became an employee of convicted perlemoen head Morne Blignault, had been tasked as the driver of a truck containing perlemoen.
He was reportedly roped into the business by his older brother and Blignault’s right-hand man, Japie Naumann.
Blignault, his son Morne jnr, Naumann, Bezuidenhout and Prinsloo all pleaded guilty to charges including racketeering and contravening the Marine Living Resources Act.
They will all be sentenced on May 2.
While argument in mitigation and aggravation of sentence kicked off on Monday for his co-accused, Prinsloo, who was out on bail, absconded and spent almost three days dodging the police.
Hawks officers from Port Elizabeth drove down to Knysna on Wednesday, where Prinsloo was re-arrested and back in court by Thursday morning, with a large suitcase in tow.
Wiping away tears with a crumpled tissue, Prinsloo said after consulting with his counsel on Friday, he had become scared and decided to flee.
He was first arrested in April 2018 after he was nabbed just outside Paterson while driving a stolen vehicle containing 6,013 perlemoen.
The load was later linked to Blignault.
According to a probation officer’s report referred to in mitigation of sentence on Thursday, Prinsloo had been looking after his wheelchair-bound mother since her diagnosis with cancer in September.
He was a part-time singer at Anchor Down Sports Bar and Entertainment Centre in Jeffreys Bay.
The pre-sentence report sets out how disappointed his mother, Maryna Kapp, and step-father, Machiel, were about Prinsloo’s involvement in the illegal perlemoen trade.
While they had been aware of Naumann’s dodgy dealings, they had done everything in their power to persuade their younger son not to become involved.
Both claimed Prinsloo was recruited by his brother and were of the view that he was lured into accepting the offer because he needed the money to fund the release of his CD.
State advocate Martin le Roux said not only had Prinsloo driven the vehicle containing perlemoen, he had been well aware that it was in fact stolen and had even helped change the number plates.
Le Roux said this all added to his level of moral blameworthiness.
Defence advocate Johan van der Spuy asked the court to blend the sentence with an element of mercy and requested that a portion of the prison term be suspended.