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A chance visit by a police officer literally blew the lid on a suburban drug laboratory at a house owned by alleged Sexy Boys gang leader Jerome “Donkie” Booysen, when a huge stash of chemicals used to make illegal drugs went up in flames.
As police laid siege for five days to the house, in an upmarket Durbanville suburb, Community Safety MEC Dan Plato admitted that the Sexy Boys gang, under what police say is the most sophisticated gang boss in the province, controls the “massive” drug trade at city centre clubs and pubs.
The house was one of three owned by Booysen - two in Durbanville and one in Bellville - which were searched by the Hawks last month. Four men were arrested for allegedly dealing in drugs.
While Hawks spokesman Captain Paul Ramoloko confirmed a “drug laboratory” was discovered at Booysen’s home, and that “drug manufacturing chemicals” were confiscated, Weekend Argus can reveal the operation at one of the Durbanville houses was exposed when a police officer stopped to query a vehicle parked in the driveway.
Moments after he knocked, flames engulfed the back of the house, releasing clouds of chemical gases into the air. He saw someone flee and called for back-up.
When it became clear what the beat policeman had stumbled upon, the elite Hawks deployed five teams to the house, standing guard there for the next five days. On the fifth day, the police removed what was left of the chemicals, also using a forklift to move two vehicles.
Ramoloko said the impounded vehicles “were used in the commission of crimes, and are regarded as proceeds of drugs”.
Dozens of neighbours reported a scene straight out of a gangland movie. They said the fire brigade arrived, then the uniformed police, the Hawks, a police forensics team, and finally members of the police’s intelligence branch.
At the end of the five days, the neighbours said, they watched as the forensics team, wearing masks and protective clothing, carried out 250-litre drums, apparently containing the precursor chemicals used in the manufacture of drugs. At least some of the drums are understood to have contained methaqualone, the key ingredient in the manufacture of Mandrax - which, Weekend Argus sources say, has been flooding the Cape market in the form of a new tablet with the street name “Boss”.
Police cordoned off the area, at times warning neighbours of “hazardous materials”.
By late evening on the day of the fire, the Vindoux Street house was swarming with police.
Heavily-armed undercover police officers also hid in trees in front of the house and in the backyard, the neighbours reported.
“You should have seen the special forces here. I just about walked over one of them hiding behind the trees.
“From what I understand, the house was used by the Sexy Boys gang to manufacture drugs,” one neighbour told Weekend Argus.
On Friday night, following a walkabout of the city’s clubs, MEC Plato said his office had received complaints of “massive drug-dealing” in the city centre.
At first Plato denied knowing how the drugs entered the clubs, but when pressed, acknowledged that, in many cases, it appeared bouncers employed to provide security at the door had been found to be responsible.
He also said that the bosses of Specialised Security Services (SPS), the company launched by Booysen and his business partners André Naudé and Mark Lifman, still controlled security at entertainment venues in Long Street, supplying bouncers to venues.
Meanwhile, a charge sheet at the Bellville Magistrate’s Court details the four men taken into custody in the Hawks raids at Booysen’s properties as Abdul Bashier Adendorf, 42, and David Orr, 38, both from Parow, Brendon Smith, 39, from Uitsig, and Kenneth Hansen, 46, from Bellville. The first three were arrested on February 1, and Hansen on February 7. They remain in custody and are expected to apply for bail on Wednesday.
Ramoloko told Weekend Argus that although Booysen had not been charged, he remained “a person of interest to us”.
He confirmed the other four suspects had been charged with dealing in drugs.
Ian Small-Smith, Booysen’s attorney, said Booysen was “not a suspect in the matter and he will follow my advice on the matter”.
“We have been and will continue to co-operate with the authorities in this matter,” he added. - Sunday Argus