One Saturday night in August, Deurick van Blerk climbed into his small boat off the coast of Cape Town on another of his illegal fishing expeditions. He never returned. Investigators are looking into allegations by fellow divers and his family that he was murdered, shot by a special task force during an anti-poaching operation in an increasingly violent battle between authorities and illegal hunters of abalone shellfish and rock lobster. Perlemoen, also known as abalone, is a delicacy prized in Hong Kong, mainland China and elsewhere in east Asia, where dishes featuring the marine molluscs are coveted at wedding banquets and can cost thousands of dollars. Illegal divers also search for rock lobster which is sold on the local market. “Deurick and I started poaching when we were 15,” his cousin Bruce van Reenen told AFP, struggling to control his emotions. “Often we were fishing together, but that night we weren’t. We went on separate boats, I went diving around the corner in Camps Ba...

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