Durban - Another home in the Upper Highway area, suspected of being a drug den, has been raided by police and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, the Hawks.
On Thursday night, police swarmed over an isolated home in Riverview Drive in Crestholme, near Waterfall. It was the fourth such raid on homes in recent times – previous drug manufacturing plants were found in homes in Winston Park, Kloof and uMhlanga.
The house was not visible from the road and was shielded by big trees.
Curious neighbours were taken aback. “It is very quiet here and ‘farmy’; we are absolutely shocked,” said Tracy Maritz.
Another neighbour, Kevin Venter, who used to live on a farm that backs on to the property, said it had always been “very quiet” and he had wondered where the occupants were, as he never saw anyone, “not even a car”.
“The house was rundown and the two-and-a-half-acre garden was always in a state,” said Venter.
His wife Marianne said: “At last the police are actually doing something.”
Paul Ramoloko, a spokesman for the Hawks, said the house was a drug lab, but he could not confirm what type or quantity of drugs were found as officers were still busy at the scene.
“I’m told by the provincial commander that they were talking about a similar lab to that one (in Kloof). It was too early to positively link last night’s raid to the one in Kloof.
Early reports were that five people had been arrested, but this could not be confirmed.
A month ago police cracked a drug manufacturing ring, initially believed to be one of South Africa’s biggest, when they raided a house in Kloof.
Chinese citizens Yip Kin Hung and Wing Lik Wong and a Cape Town man, Warren Daniels, were arrested and charged with dealing in drugs.
Tests showed the drugs were methaqualone, known as mandrax, with an estimated value of R20 million.
In December, residents of Winston Park were gobsmacked when a drug laboratory manufacturing heroin straws, mandrax tablets and heroin powder, with an estimated street value of R41 million, was discovered in a once-grand family home. Machinery used to make drugs was also found.
Nineteen men, some of them from Swaziland, Lesotho and Mozambique, were arrested. At the time, Lieutenant-General Solomon Makgale said: “We have no doubt that an operation of this magnitude is the work of a syndicate and we believe we are making great inroads in bringing these major drug syndicates to their knees.”
Like the Crestholme property, that house was described by a neighbour as “very sparse and rundown”.
It had several garages, but on most days a “large truck” was the only vehicle parked there and it was quiet.
In January, a house in Chartwell Drive, uMhlanga Rocks, was found to be a packaging hub for a mandrax, heroin and cocaine operation.
Police also found R220 000 in cash at a nearby International Bank Vault safety deposit box. Twelve people were arrested.
In July last year, a couple were arrested and more than 16 000 ecstasy tablets and 10kg of heroin with a street value of more than R5 million were seized when police raided a plush house in the gated Panorama Park estate at Illovo Beach.