Police and neighbourhood watch members played a waiting game after spotting several men in wetsuits entering the water behind Waters Edge in Melkbosstrand on Saturday night October 15.
Later, in the early hours of Sunday October 16, the officers from the police sea border unit and anti-poaching unit had watched, together with Melkbosstrand Neighbourhood watch members, as the same men emerged from the sea carrying what appeared to abalone, which they placed in bags, said Table View police spokeswoman Captain Adriana Chandler.
Another two men had joined the divers, putting the bags of abalone in more bags.
They had then all walked towards Table View and hidden in bushes along Otto du Plessis Drive, where they met three vehicles, all of which drove off quickly once the bags were loaded.
“At this point, the team called for back-up and gave a description of the vehicles and suspects and the direction in which the vehicles were moving.
“Table View SAPS, together with other partners cordoned off an area on Otto du Plessis Drive near Big Bay. Thirteen suspects aged between 21 and 43 were arrested and charged with numerous crime codes under the Marine Life and Resources Act,” said Captain Chandler.
A total of 1044 abalone, with an estimated valued of R280 000, were confiscated and handed over to the law enforcement marine unit.