Arrest turns into rescue mission

Police divers attempting to get to the suspect who can be seen in the background.

A police pursuit turned into a rescue operation when a suspected abalone poacher ran into a swamp to escape arrest.

According to Muizenberg police spokesman Captain Stephen Knapp, officers noticed a suspicious-looking vehicle near Sunrise Circle during a blue-light patrol on Thursday September 3, at 6.30pm.

After spotting the officers, the driver of the silver Toyota Avanza sped off in the direction of Strandfontein on Baden Powell Drive and veered off the road into a sand due about 3km from Sunrise Circle.

The two occupants jumped from the vehicle and ran through the dunes toward the sewerage pump station with police in pursuit.

Officers arrested a 32-year-old Strand man, but the other suspect ran into a swamp and sank up to his chest. Police divers were called to assist, but they couldn’t reach the man, and a medical rescue helicopter was then used to get a diver to his position and extricate him. The 24-year-old from Hermanus was placed under arrest.

Captain Knapp said officers had found 92 abalone in the Avanza.

The suspects appeared in the Muizenberg Magistrate’s Court on Friday September 4 on charges of possession of abalone.