Durban - A drugs raid at a Kloof house, which police claimed was one of the country’s biggest hauls because billions of rand worth of drugs were seized, has been drastically downgraded.
Tests have revealed that the drugs were methaqualone, known as mandrax, with an estimated value of R20 million.
Police initially believed the drugs were heroin, with a value of about R3 billion.
On Tuesday, National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Nathi Mncube said the drugs, which had been found in the house in a sludge and powder form, had been tested.
“It is not heroin but methaqualone. It is not as big as we thought.”
Mncube spoke to the media outside the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court after three men, who were arrested during the raid, briefly appeared.
There was initially chaos when the media tried to access the court building, with security demanding a letter from magistrate Wendy Robinson, who is hearing the case. During the previous hearing two weeks ago, Robinson barred the media from identifying the men and warned that all media would have to make an application for access.
Eventually, print journalists, photographers and broadcast journalists were allowed to attend the case on Tuesday. However, no photographs of the men were taken because they were sent away before the media had an opportunity to do so.
The men, who can now be named owing to a relaxation of the court’s earlier ruling, are Warren Daniels, 24, from Mitchells Plain in Cape Town, and Chinese foreigners Wing Lik Wong, 58, and Yip Kin Hung, 56.
The men are charged with dealing in 2 000 litres and 45kg of methaqualone in liquid sludge and powder form respectively.
Outside court, social development staff, members of the Anti-Drug Forum, led by Sam Pillay and the People Against Gangsterism and Drugs, protested, calling for the men to be denied bail.
Social Development MEC Wesizwe Thusi, who addressed the crowd, said “drug dealers had to be driven out of communities”.
The case was adjourned to July 18 for further investigation and the men were remanded to Westville prison.