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Durban - KwaZulu-Natal police are searching for a Durban man they believe is the kingpin of a massive heroin and mandrax drug-dealing syndicate which was operating from a rented uMhlanga Rocks property.
Police believe the syndicate was selling about 15 000 straws of heroin a day.
Twelve people charged in connection with the crime appeared in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court on Thursday on drug-dealing charges.
The group were arrested at a Chartwell Drive house on Monday after metro police acted on a tip-off and raided the property.
Police found at least 20 000 mandrax tablets, several hundred straws of heroin and 4.5kg of heroin powder at the house. The police estimate the drugs have a value of R5 million, and the house was being used solely for drug packaging.
Police also found R220 000 in cash at a nearby International Bank Vault safety deposit box.
The drug-packaging operation appears to be similar to the set-up at a Gillitts home where police recently seized mandrax and heroin worth R40m.
In the Gillitts case, police said the home was being used as a drug-packaging facility, and that there were seven workstations which had been manned by foreigners to package heroin straws.
On Thursday, in the uMhlanga case, prosecutor Dinesh Nandkissor said the State was opposed to bail, and that it needed a seven-day adjournment for the police to verify the personal circumstances of the accused.
The investigating officer, Warrant Officer Jean-Pierre van Zyl-Roux, who was called to testify by magistrate Ruby Poobalan, said the house had been used solely for drug packaging.
There were seven workstations in the home where drugs were being packaged.
He added that the group, and particularly the main accused, Ommie Sheik Mohamed, were flight risks.
He said Mohamed’s relative, who was believed to be the kingpin behind the operation, was being sought by the police and had sub-leased the property from the lease-holder.
The rent was R15 000 a month, with an additional R2 000 a month for electricity and water.
Under cross-examination by the group’s attorney, Faizel Kara, Van Zyl-Roux conceded that Mohamed had handed in her passport and ID to the police.
However, he said she could obtain fake documents.
Mohamed’s relatives Nawaaz Sheik Mohamed, Rafiq Sheik Mohamed and Jameelah Sheik Mohamed, along with Sizeka Mangaliso, Haroon Omar, Faiza Khan, Philiswa Kolisile, Altaaf Hoosen Sayed, Zaakir Bobat and Laila Sayed are her co-accused.
Van Zyl-Roux added that one of the accused, Hassan Gihunga, was a Rwandan national, and his status in the country had to be verified with Home Affairs.
Kara said his clients should have appeared in court on Tuesday, and that their rights had been infringed.