Cape Town -
The mystery of Mossel Bay’s “white Christmas” is a long way from being solved. But police have confirmed that the barrels that washed up on to beaches contained cocaine in its purest form.
This verifies initial reports that the haul was worth more than R100 million.
Police spokesman Captain Malcolm Pojie said they were investigating.
“We are dealing with various law enforcement organisations to try to pin down some suspects. But for now, we have made no arrests.”
It has been almost three months since the last drum of cocaine was found.
On New Year’s Day a holidaymaker spotted a blue drum attached to a black bag on the beaches between Hartenbos and Klein Brak rivers. It contained 25 bricks of white powder.
The previous day, a man standing on his balcony in Rheebok village near Mossel Bay spotted a blue drum in the water.
When police opened the drum, they discovered 25 bricks of what seemed to be unprocessed, pure cocaine.
The discovery of these two drums followed two similar retrievals the week before: one near Hartenbos on Christmas Day and another near Pinnacle Point. Each barrel contained 25kg of white powder.
It is suspected that the barrels had been floating out at sea for at least three weeks before they were found.
On Monday, Pojie said the separate hauls were linked, and confirmed that they had a total street value of R100m.
“We are investigating every possible angle,” he concluded.
Herman van Niekerk, operations manager at Maritime Risk Solutions, said smuggling syndicates continued to operate along the east coast.
“For them it’s like taking candy from a baby. There is nobody patrolling these coastlines. They walk in and out as they please.”
Van Niekerk said the cartels were involved in far more than just the cocaine trade, with interests in rhino poaching and human trafficking.
“Compared to the bigger picture, these drugs that washed up on the beach are small scale.”