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3 Saudis arrested for stealing Cape Flora

a picture of an african daisie

Three Saudi citizens were penalized R2 million for stealing an enormous amount of unlawfully gathered flora from a trip to the Western Cape without proper authorization. They were determined to have committed money laundering.

According to Times Live, the Vredendal regional court ordered Bedah Abdulrahman Albedah, Mohand Abdulnaser Althenaian, and Abdulnaser Mohammed Althenaian to leave South Africa within 48 hours after their release.

They were told to transfer R2 million to the Western Cape Nature Conservation Board and the Criminal Assets Recovery Account.

The trio acknowledged, as part of their plea and sentencing agreement, that the sole objective of their travel to South Africa was to look for and collect flora that they intended to export to a farm in Saudi Arabia.

The three testified before the court that they entered the nation on October 7 and rented a car at Cape Town International Airport. They admitted that finding and collecting flora was the main goal of the entire journey. They reserved a room at a guest house in a place where the plants they needed were rumored to grow. Then, they enlisted the cooperation of four locals to assist them in obtaining the flora unlawfully, said a spokesman for the regional National Prosecuting Authority, on Thursday.

“They were caught with millions of floral items after leaving the guest house. Charges against the locals were dropped after the four accused admitted to police and CapeNature officials that the flora found hidden in their luggage was actually theirs.

Along with the drug trade, the smuggling of weapons, and human trafficking, advocate Aradhana Heeramun claimed on behalf of the prosecution that the unlawful trade in wild flora and animals was one of the five biggest illegal activities in the world.

Bedah Abdulrahman Albedah, 40, works for the ministry of Islamic affairs, his father Abdulnaser Mohammed Althenaian, 50, served in the military defense, and his son Mohand Abulnaian, 25, is a financial analyst, said Heeramun.

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“There has been a sharp increase since the start of 2022. These offenders were apprehended thanks to the diligence of CapeNature staff at Vanrhynsdorp and the police’s endangered species and stock theft team. Additionally, there have been some arrests for these offenses thanks to the communities’ awareness and vigilance.

The defendants were also given sentences of an effective seven-year prison term for each of them, which was deferred for five years if they did not get convicted for money laundering or possessing plants without a permit during that time.

“The biodiversity of South Africa needs to be preserved, said advocate Nicolette Bell, the province’s director of public prosecutions.

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