National commissioner of police, General Fannie Masemola has led a drug destruction process where five tonnes of different drugs, worth around R550 million, were destroyed.
The drugs were confiscated during various police operations in six provinces: KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Free State, Gauteng, North West and Mpumalanga, according to national police spokesperson, Brigadier Athlenda Mathe.
The drugs included cocaine, heroin, mandrax and cannabis. The event on Wednesday was the fifth drug destruction process in the current financial year.
“In this financial year alone, more than R1 billion worth of drugs have been destroyed,” said Mathe.
In the 2022/2023 financial year, Mathe said six tonnes of drugs were seized and destroyed with a value of R2 billion.
Since October, police have intercepted four massive drug consignments — three were in Durban and one in Gqeberha.
“It is worth noting that cocaine valued at more than R365 million was seized during these drug busts,” said Mathe.
“The most recent massive drug bust was on December 4, at the Durban Harbour where 433 blocks of cocaine with a street value of R151 million was intercepted and found disguised in meat boxes,” she said.
“Just last week, R90 million worth of drugs seized during operations in the Eastern and Western Cape provinces were destroyed in Cape Town.”
During the destruction event held at an undisclosed location on Wednesday, Masemola said 131 clandestine laboratories have been shut down by police since 2019.
“Our members are working hard to remove drugs off our streets as they are able to intercept drugs coming into the country and within our country and that speaks to the capabilities of our crime intelligence and vigilance of our operational members,” said the national police commissioner.
“We also appreciate the tips-offs from community members that we continue to receive that assist us in intercepting these drugs.”
During the festive season, more than 19,000 people were arrested for being in possession of drugs.
“We will continue to do our best to deal decisively with drug dealers and peddlers,” said Masemola.
The South African Police Service highlighted that the drug destruction processes demonstrates the “relentless efforts of our men and women in blue in removing drugs off our streets”.
Some of the drugs that were destroyed include those that were seized during the following drug busts:
– The Durban Harbour case, where 700 kilogrammes of cannabis with a street value of R21 million was seized.
– A Durban harbour case where 530 kilogrammes of cocaine with an estimated street value of R185 million was seized
– A Durban Harbour case where 223 kilogrammes of tablets containing fenethyllin, which is a nervous system stimulant, worth R17.5 million was seized.
– A case where 652 kilogrammes of mandrax tablets worth R98 million were confiscated at a clandestine drug laboratory.
– Heroine with a street value of R28 million, in a case where vehicles travelling from Mozambique to South Africa were stopped and searched. The heroine was found concealed in the vehicle compartments. One drug peddlers was sentenced to five years imprisonment.
– Drugs confiscated at OR Tambo International Airport worth R17 million.
Through ongoing Operation Shanela, members of the SAPS “continue to make it difficult for criminals to operate by sniffing them out” from every corner of the country, according to Mathe.
Last week, IOL reported that tik worth more than R18 million, and mandrax and dagga worth more than R10 million formed part of a R90 million drugs haul destroyed by the police in Western Cape.
At that occasion, Masemola presided over the destruction of the drugs, accompanied by provincial commissioner Thembisile Patekile.