Saudi nationals arrested and fined R2m for illegal harvest of plants

Posted on 4 November 2022 By Olerato Ramafsi

Three Saudi nationals were recently caught with a huge quantity of flora which was illegally harvested during a trip to the Western Cape.

Get ready to view the West Coast's spring flowers

Abdulnaser Mohammed Althenaian, his son, Mohand Abdulnaser Althenaian, and Bedah Abdulrahman Albedah were found guilty of money laundering and harvesting flora without documentation. They were ordered by the Vredendal regional court to leave SA within 48 hours of their release and pay a R2 million fine.

During their plea and sentencing, the trio admitted that their trip to SA was planned with the purpose of searching for, and gathering flora which they planned to export back to Saudi Arabia.

‘The three told the court that they arrived in the country on October 7 and hired a vehicle at Cape Town International Airport. They confessed that the entire trip was planned with the purpose of searching for and acquiring flora. They booked into a guest house in a location known to have the plants they wanted. They then recruited four locals to help them illegally acquire the flora.’ Provincial National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Erica Ntabazalila said on Thursday.

READ: The dark side behind the growing popularity of succulents

‘After spending days acquiring the flora, they left the guest house but were arrested on the Pofadder/Bitterfontein crossing with more than 1.63-million items. Upon their arrest, the four accused told police and CapeNature officials that the flora, which was concealed in their luggage, was theirs and did not belong to the locals they recruited, which lead to charges withdrawn against the locals.

The accused were also sentenced to an effective seven years each, suspended for five years on condition that they are not arrested in possession of flora without permission and money laundering during the period of suspension.

‘South Africa has a national as well as international obligation to address wildlife trafficking,’ said director of public prosecutions in the province, advocate Nicolette Bell. ‘This is because several international multilateral environmental agreements which oblige South Africa to conserve its natural resources and ensure that international trade in listed wildlife species does not threaten their survival in the wild.’

‘There is a duty for all of us to act now to ensure that our integrity is protected,’ she added.

Picture: Getaway Gallery

Follow us on social media for more travel news, inspiration, and guides. You can also tag us to be featured. 

TikTok | Instagram Facebook Twitter

ALSO READ: South Africa ranks as a top road trip destination worldwide



yoast-primary - 1004431
tcat - Travel news
tcat_slug - travel-news
tcat2 - Travel news
tcat2_slug - travel-news
tcat_final -