Drug bust shocks quiet neighbourhood

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The posh neighbourhood of Dobsonville, Soweto, was rocked by news on Tuesday that amongst its quiet streets, where children often play, was a hiding place for a multimillion drug lab.

Three people were arrested after police discovered a multimillion drug manufacturing lab in a house in Dobsonville.

A multidisciplinary operation between the Western Cape Hawks’ South African Narcotics Enforcement Bureau (SANEB), Gauteng Hawks and Crime Intelligence closed down a drug den loaded with drug manufacturing equipment and bags of chemicals such as meth, which is the active ingredient in mandrax.

The criminal operation was under the Hawks’ radar for over a month. The mandrax drugs that were being manufactured were allegedly sold in the Western Cape and other parts of the country.

Members swooped on a residential house and arrested a 25-year-old suspect. The team continued to Orlando East, where a large quantity of mandrax tablets were found hidden inside the boot of a car packed and ready for circulation. Two women were arrested there.

High level police and Hawks officials, as well as Police Minister Fikile Mbalula inspected the scene.

Gauteng Hawks head Major General Prince Mokotedi said they had found 330kg of finished produce in the house alone.

“We cannot estimate the value of the overall bust because the scenes are still being processed. We are excited about this discovery because it is a multidisciplinary operation,” said Mokotedi.

Further investigations are underway, which will try to link the Dobsonville drug den and suspects to others in the country.

Minister Mbalula said this operation will keep more drugs off the streets.

“They manufacture the drugs here and take it to Western Cape and other parts to kill our people. This lab is in a zone where you [would not] suspect a thing. Salutations to our police officers who worked very hard. These are the type we would like to recognize and celebrate.”

The Minister said the police are on track and winning the war on crime.

“We are winning the war. We are on the right track and will keep up the tempo. All hands are on deck. We’re biting, we’re on the ground and we’re fighting the good fight. Salute to our police officers who don’t sleep all the time to protect our nation.”

The Minister said their target is not only the drug peddlers but the bosses as well so they can close down on the supply.

Communities urged to take interest in their surroundings

He expressed his disappointment that the drug lab was run in a residential area and no one knew about it in the neighbourhood. He said communities need to live together as one.

Neighbours who spoke to SAnews after the raid said they suspected nothing amiss about the house.

“This is a very quiet neighbourhood where everyone does their own thing. The house in particular was such. We just know that the person who lived there moved out last year. We knew him as a businessman, who changed cars and who is always away. We thought the new person that moved in was a caretaker.

“There were no cars or any suspicious behaviour or movements. The only thing we noticed was noise on some nights around 11pm - we just thought it was a vacuum cleaner. The street would also have a strange smell sometimes but no one knew where it came from,” explained a neighbour, who wanted to remain anonymous.

Minister Mbalula said neighbourhood watch groups are extremely important in this regard and urged communities to live together and be interested in each other.

“… That’s why we have street committees,” the Minister said.

He said communities need to help police to fight crime by reporting suspicious behaviour.

The Acting National Head of the Hawks, Lieutenant General Yolisa Matakata, has hailed the dismantling of the drug manufacturing operation. She applauded the cooperation from members of the force.

“We will continue to punch holes in the criminal underworld. Our collaboration with the other law enforcement agencies is yielding good results and this should undoubtedly send a profound message to organised crime syndicates that we are ready to face them head on. 

“We were not mincing our words when we committed to turn the tide. This is the result and we mean business,” said Matakata.

Meanwhile, the suspect will appear at the Roodepoort Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.

Investigations continue and more arrests cannot be ruled out. - SAnews.gov.za

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