Just before 07:00 on Thursday, an explosion was heard in Hely Street, Maitland, Cape Town.
Police officers who rushed to the scene found extensive damage after a gas cylinder explosion at the back of the house – as well as a suspect with severe burns.
A spokesman for the SA Police Services in the Western Cape said two adjacent homes were also damaged in the blast.
“In the remains of what was the drying room were numerous shelves of abalone being dried, a gas cylinder and a fan. In another room there was a large number of containers filled with shucked abalone.”
Several other items of equipment, including gas cylinders and burners, fans, scales and bags of salt were seized.
“One person was admitted to hospital with severe burn injuries and another one fled the scene. Two suspects were arrested, a 33-year-old male and a 50-year-old woman. The exact value of the abalone confiscated is yet to be determined; however it is valued at a substantial amount.”
In a separate incident in Goodwood, police received complaints about the stench emanating from a house in Wiener Street earlier this week.
Members of the Crime Prevention Unit entered the house soon afterwards, to discover another backyard abalone processing facility.
“Stainless steel pots, plastic containers and burners were found in a cooking room. A second room was a fully-equipped drying room filled with numerous shelves of abalone, of which many were under-size.
Police said three men (aged 37, 40 and 43) were arrested and were due to appear in the Goodwood Magistrates Court on Thursday on charges under the Marine Living Marine Resources Act.
The exact value of the abalone confiscated was yet to be determined.
Western Cape Provincial Commissioner Lt Gen KE Jula has commended his officers following the arrests. DM
Photo: Partly-dried abalone lies scattered among the drying racks and broken bricks after an explosion at a backyard processing plant in Hely Street, Maitland early on Thursday. Photo: Supplied
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