Weekly Press Review – 24 July 2017

The Bengis name has made local headlines again this week with the news that 81 year-old Arnold Bengis, will face another 57 months in an American Federal prison.

According to the press, Bengis senior was sentenced in the Court for the Southern District of New York for charges related to the case stemming from his company’s poaching of marine life, specifically West Coast rock lobster.

Along with the prison sentence, Bengis will have to pay $37.3 million (R485m) in restitution after failing to pay an original 2004 restitution order.

Now residing in Tel Aviv, Bengis faces extradition.

Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries acting chief director for monitoring control and surveillance, Thembalethu Vico, says, “ DAFF will stop at nothing to ensure that the full might of the law is applied against anyone who is found to be robbing the South African communities by stealing their invaluable fisheries resources.”

Also making headlines this week are allegations of corruption and bribery within South Africa’s multi-billion rand fisheries industry.

According to the press, industry sources have revealed that the suspension of the director-general of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Mike Mlengana,  last week could open a Pandora’s box in an economic sector already riddled with controversy.

Sources have also revealed that the department has recently awarded a number of tenders under questionable circumstances, including one valued at R150 million which was awarded to a preferred company with a 19 year-old, with 25 years experience in the fishing industry, on the company’s board of directors.

In May this year, the Hawks visited the department’s offices and confiscated a laptop and cellphone belonging to an official.

The department has stated that it is co-operating with the Hawks’ investigation.

The search continues for the four fishermen still missing after their vessel, the Maledon, capsized off St Francis Bay last week.

According to the press, eight of the 16 crew members survived the incident, four lost their lives and four remain missing.

The families of these missing men now face a new shock in that without the bodies of their loved ones, they have a battle to get any insurance payouts. In order to access the benefits of an existing provident fund, they need to produce a death certificate and without a body, this is simply not possible.

General manager of Balobi Fishing Enterprises said, “Where there is no body, we will assist by means of our attorney to work through the legal process to get the presumption-of-death certificates, but it is a lengthy process.”

The search for the missing fishermen continues.

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