An inquiry with interpol has revealed that the two Chinese nationals allegedly involved in the Kloof drugs bust have previous criminal convictions for offences committed in China.
The Department of Home Affairs has also confirmed they were illegally in the country and not permitted to work.
This emerged at the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday during the bail application of the four men said to be involved with operating a drug laboratory at a home in Everton Road, Kloof.
Chinese nationals Wing Lik Wong, 58, Kin Hung Yip, 56, plus Warren Daniels, 24, of Cape Town, and Chatsworth resident Junaid Rasool, 24, have been charged with dealing in or alternatively, being in possession of Methaqualone, the active ingredient in the manufacture of mandrax.
The investigations revealed that the house contained 2 800 litres of Methaqualone in pure sludge form and 45kg in powder form.
Police initially thought they had discovered R3 billion-worth of pure heroin, however, they have since backtracked. They confirmed the drug as Methaqualone, valued at about R32 million.
The two Chinese nationals and Daniels were initially arrested in the raid. Since then, the registered owner of the property, Rasool, handed himself in to the police on July 17.
Earlier this week, the investigating officer, Colonel Amod Khalil Hoosen of the Hawks narcotics unit, testified that the laboratory was linked to another one discovered at a house in River View Drive, Crestholme, near Waterfall, last month. Four men have also been arrested in that case.
In his testimony opposing bail yesterday, Hoosen said he made contact with interpol and international drug enforcement agencies which revealed that Yip had been sentenced in 1984 for managing an unlicensed brothel and was found guilty of drug trafficking in the late 1990s in China. Interpol also revealed that Wong had been guilty of illegal gambling in 1985 in Hong Kong.
Hoosen also submitted an affidavit from Home Affairs’ Immigration Office Sandra Mazibuko stating that the two Chinese nationals had arrived on holiday visas, which had expired in July.
They were also prohibited from working and they contravened the Immigration Act by working without a permit.
The two Chinese men and Daniels were on Wednesday represented by attorney Abdul Shaikjee, while Rasool was represented by advocate Shane Matthews.
In his cross-examination of Hoosen, Shaikjee questioned the validity of the pictures of the drugs and equipment submitted by the prosecution to the court.
He said they did not depict when and where they were taken. He said his clients could not extend their visas as they were being held in custody.
Shaikjee also asked what proof Hoosen had from interpol regarding the previous convictions of the Chinese men. Hoosen said he was in possession of an e-mail and had made telephone calls.
Matthews told the court in his cross-examination of Hoosen that Rasool was asked by the police to hand himself in, three weeks after he had initially made contact with them. That would have been ample time for him to have fled if he had wanted to.
Matthews said Rasool’s name was merely used in the signing of the property and that the house belonged to a Duncan Naidoo.
Considering that Rasool was a driver earning about R4 000 a month, he could not afford to own the house. He said Rasool provided the police with crucial information in that he identified the owner of the house and said part of the money for the house came from Jerrico Chetty, who is being charged in the Crestholme case.
Matthews also questioned the validity of the police informants who allegedly linked Rasool to a broader drug syndicate. He believed these informants were “phantoms”.
State prosecutor Waldo Smit said all the accused faced long sentences if found guilty.
None of them had immovable property, which therefore would not deter them from absconding.
He said Daniels has no dependents in KwaZulu-Natal and questioned the manner in which the Chinese men were going to maintain themselves if released. He suggested fake travel documents could easily be obtained in the country.
The matter was adjourned to later this month when Magistrate Queen Khuzwayo will give her judgment on the bail application.