EXPLOSION: Smokkelhuis

An alleged abalone smokkelaar, who ran away after an explosion at an illegal abalone plant in Maitland, will appear in court on Wednesday after he was found hiding out in Elsies River.

Residents living in Hely Street woke up to a loud bang on Thursday, 8 February after a gas tank exploded at their neighbour’s home.

The blast caused the roof of the house to fly off, exposing the illegal processing facility.

Maitland police responded to investigate the cause of the blast, but neighbours say the 50-year-old homeowner refused police access.

BIG BLAST: House in Hely Street, Elsies River

Wakker cops went to neighbouring properties to see what was happening when they discovered large containers filled with shucked abalone, gas cylinders and burners, fans, scales and bags.

Police spokesperson, Captain FC van Wyk, said a woman and a 33-year-old man were arrested and indicated that while one man was taken to hospital for burns caused by the explosion, another suspect had fled the scene.

On Monday, detectives of the Provincial Organised Crime Unit followed up on leads and found the 27-year-old man at a property in Oasis Street, Elsies River.

Police spokesperson, Lieutenant-Colonel André Traut, says the man will appear in Cape Town Magistrate's Court on Wednesday.

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