Durban - Two luxury Highway houses, one of which was bought for R3.8 million, were allegedly being used by a syndicate to manufacture millions in drugs for four years.
This was heard in the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court on Monday during the bail application of three men charged in connection with a suspected drug laboratory operating from a home in Everton Road, Kloof.
Chinese Wing Lik Wong, 58, and Kin Hung Yip, 56, and Warren Daniels, 24, of Cape Town, have been charged with dealing in, or alternatively being in possession of, methaqualone, which is the active ingredient in mandrax.
Police had initially thought they had found pure heroin worth R3 billion on the premises during the June 24 raid, but forensic analysis revealed that the drugs were methaqualone worth about R32 million.
A fourth man, Junaid Rasool, who is the registered owner of the property, has also been charged.
Yesterday investigating officer Colonel Amod Khalil Hoosen, of the Hawks, testified that the laboratory was linked to another laboratory found at a house in Crestholme near Waterfall on July 24.
He said it was believed that the operations were set up in 2010.
Hoosen said documents found at the Crestholme property contained Daniels’s name and the police had information that R1m of the money used to buy the Everton Road property came from a suspect implicated in the Crestholme laboratory.
In affidavits submitted to the court, the men deny any knowledge of making or dealing in drugs on the Everton Road premises.
Daniels said he was hired to carry out renovations.
Wing Lik Wong said he had been hired to install an industrial machine and Kin Hung Yip was assisting him. Home Affairs documentation showed that both Chinese men had visitor’s permits, which precluded them from working, and these had expired on July 8.
Daniels said that he had arranged, through an acquaintance, Donovan Naidoo, for him and the Chinese nationals to stay at an eManzimtoti residence until the case was finalised, if they were granted bail.
Rasool said the property was in his name, but was bought by his employer and relative, Duncan Naidoo.
“He approached me in 2013 and said he wanted to buy a property, but he did not want it to be in his name. I knew that he was not on good terms with his wife and believed that he did not want her to know about the property. I agreed to help him,” Hoosen said.
Wing Lik Wong and Kin Hung Yip were both wearing gas masks when they were found in the vicinity of the drug manufacturing facilities on the day of the raid.
Hoosen said Daniels, who was described as being in control of the property, had allegedly made submissions to the police that there were drugs on the premises.
He said Rasool was being investigated for money laundering in connection with the purchase of the property.
Advocate Jimmy Howse, acting for Daniels and the Chinese nationals, questioned Hoosen about how his clients would know what the drugs were when the police got it wrong.
“The national commissioner who was at the scene thought it was heroin.
“How are the accused expected to know what these drugs were?”
Hoosen said the police on “plain sight” of the substance had suspected it was heroin, but analysis had shown it was methaqualone.
The bail application continues later this week. The men arrested in the Crestholme case are expected in court on Tuesday.