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Durban - Nine police officers from the Montclair police station were taken to hospital after they unwittingly ate a batch of muffins allegedly laced with dagga given them by a colleague celebrating her birthday.
According to police sources at the station, two hours after consuming the “space muffins”, the officers who were all working the night shift on July 4 began hallucinating while others experienced symptoms of paranoia.
“They were all high as kites,” a source said. “One of the members just sat in a corner and was laughing for no reason. They didn’t know what was happening to them. A lot of them were confused and couldn’t explain what they were feeling.
“There were 10 of them on duty at the station and only one of them didn’t get high because she only ate the chicken.”
The officer who did not eat the muffins alerted the station’s management.
Paramedics were called and the officers were rushed to Entabeni and St Augustine’s hospitals where they were treated.
Officers from surrounding stations had to be called in to man station while crime prevention officers on duty in the area took over the van duties.
The incident occurred after a female constable brought a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken and homemade muffins for her colleagues in the charge office in celebration of her birthday.
It is believed that none of the officers, including the shift commander - a captain - knew that the muffins were allegedly laced with dagga.
In a statement, the provincial police spokesman, Colonel Jay Naicker, said: “At this stage, it is just suspected food poisoning. The police officers ate numerous items during the birthday celebration and it cannot be confirmed which item of food was contaminated. There is no truth to the rumour that it was dagga-laced muffins. The individual who supplied the food was also affected.”
When pressed for clarification on the telephone later, Naicker did concede that investigators had not ruled out the possibility that the officers might have eaten dagga-laced muffins.
“It is too early to speculate. We have sent the food for testing to a laboratory. This could be a simple case of food poisoning,” he said.
However, a police source said that it was an open secret that the officers had eaten dagga-laced muffins.
“How can they say it was food poisoning when the members were laughing their heads off for no reason? Everyone who works at Montclair knows what went on that night,” the officer said.
Naicker said the officers had all been discharged from hospital, but had not yet returned to work.
He could not provide a reason why they had not yet done.
The incident came in the same week that the Montclair Community Policing Forum launched a drug awareness campaign at the station.
Forum chairman, Gavin Hegter, said they were extremely concerned about the allegations.
“We know for a fact that the entire shift got ill and had to be taken to hospital. The reason for this we don’t know yet. There are various rumours doing the rounds,” he said.
“The muffins they had as well as the KFC was sent away for analysis and until the results come back it is pure speculation. From the CPF side we are extremely concerned and we will be following this up and hopefully get to the bottom of it.”
Hegter said the Montclair station commander had promised to keep him abreast of results of the lab test.
“If it is found that the muffins were laced with narcotics, appropriate action would have to be taken against those responsible.
“I also just want to say that if there were narcotics involved I believe that the officers who consumed them did not do it intentionally because some of them are our credible members,” he said.
“With our drug awareness campaign currently taking place this is not something we take lightly. I am determined to get to the bottom of it and for the responsible people to be dealt with.”