A 43-year-old man has been charged with stealing shipping containers worth millions of rand from Durban's harbour, police said on Wednesday.
Lieutenent-Colonel Vincent Mdunge said Yusuf Omarjee, the manager of a storage company, appeared in the Durban Magistrate's Court on Tuesday on charges of theft, fraud and money-laundering. He was released on bail of R10,000.
Mdunge said the police's organised crime unit began its investigation in June, when 14 stolen containers were found at a property in Queensburgh, Durban.
The owners of the property apparently bought the containers for R200,000 -- a fraction of their value -- from the storage company for which Omarjee works.
Two more containers were found at the storage company's premises, as was a stolen forklift.
Mdunge said foreign shipping companies stored empty containers at the company in Maydon Wharf, but often found that some had gone missing.
When the shipping companies complained, other containers would allegedly be stolen from those in stock as replacements.
He said shipping companies had complained of losses in excess of R100 million.
Mdunge said during the course of the investigation, Omarjee sought a high court order to have the investigating officer removed from the case, but the court rejected this.
"The investigating team is adamant that there could be more stolen items that are kept elsewhere. The police operation was executed on the full strength of a search warrant and was seen as the highest seizure and recovery in the southern hemisphere over many years," he said.
Omarjee was expected to appear in the Durban Magistrate's Court again on January 31. - Sapa