Third illegal avo shipment intercepted

The scourge of avocado theft off the farms outside Tzaneen has continued unabated during the national lock down. Canine Security made their third bust in a week, on Saturday afternoon.

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An inhabitant of the house next to the R71 carries bags of stolen avos out of the building.

On Saturday afternoon Marius Jacobs from Canine Security received a phone call from an off-duty police sergeant. It was a tip-off about a large load of stolen avocados being transported to a house along the R71 highway just outside Tzaneen. Apparently, the vehicle transporting the avocados was well-known among local security companies for being involved in the trade of stolen fruit from the farms situated in the Magoebaskloof area.

The Canine response team suited up. They arrived at the location the police sergeant had pointed out and noticed a large number of crates being offloaded by an unknown man. The white bakkie fled the scene when he noticed the Canine patrol vehicle approaching. A man was seen entering the house carrying a crate full of avos. One of the Canine officers, Manuel Malatji, approached the man and asked about the fruit and where he had received them from as one of their clients in Magoebaskloof reported theft earlier that day. The man asked which type of avocados were stolen and when Manuel could not answer him, the suspect bolted for the bush.

Manuel Malatji, one of the security officers at Canine Security, poses next to the ten crates of stolen avocados which they confiscated.

Manuel set off after him, but the suspect evaded capture by entering a section of extremely dense bush and undergrowth. Returning to the house, he asked one of the other inhabitants to point out the suspect’s room. Inside Mauel discovered ten crates of freshly picked green avocados. They were not ripe and would likely never ripen as they had been picked off the trees too soon. Next to the crates he found a heap of old sackcloth bags and some twine.

“These bags are filled with the stolen avos and then neatly sewn up and sold up top there at the roadside stalls,” he said as he pointed up towards the R71 about 100m from the small room. “The motorists don’t know that they are buying stolen fruit and that the fruit will never be edible as they will never ripen. In effect, they are being robbed twice whilst unknowingly supporting the criminal element in our area.”

Jacobs and the rest of his team arrived on scene and informed the police of their find. As per protocol, they cordoned off the scene and awaited the police’s arrival. More than an hour went by until the police eventually arrived and confiscated all the stolen goods. A search for the suspect yielded no results and the stolen goods were taken to the police station. At the time of going to print there have been no arrests. This is the third shipment of stolen avocados out of the Magoebaskloof area that was stopped by the Canine Security team in the last week alone.

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