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Illegal Durban ‘pharmacies’ raided

DURBAN: 200815 Police raid the Africa Trade Supermarket in Fish Market for selling counterfit products. PICTURE: GCINA NDWALANE

DURBAN: 200815 Police raid the Africa Trade Supermarket in Fish Market for selling counterfit products. PICTURE: GCINA NDWALANE

Published Aug 21, 2015

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Durban - The Hawks, Health Department officials and metro police raided Durban city centre shops on Thursday and seized hundreds of medicines, creams and tablets that were being sold illegally.

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The multi-disciplinary operation, which included Sars customs unit officials and officers from the SAPS’s harbour unit, seized goods worth about R500 000.

The teams swooped on 20 shops in and around Anton Lembede (Smith) Street and Dr Pixley KaSeme (West) Street in the CBD, and the raids were part of a nationwide operation initiated by Interpol.

Officials found several illegal products including counterfeit painkillers and expired cough syrups and toothpaste in one “general” shop in Bertha Mkhize (Victoria) Street.

The team seized thousands of illegally sold and banned substances from the shop in 14 large police evidence bags.

Some of the items included Lenovate, Persivate salve, Movate and Viagra.

About 140 bottles of the highly addictive Broncleer cough syrup, which should only be prescribed by a doctor, were also seized.

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A Health Department official confirmed that the cough syrup was a prescription drug and said that charges might be opened against the shop owner.

Most of the shop owners who were raided were not arrested, but the official said that they would be summoned to appear in court if charged.

Only three people were arrested and were expected to appear soon in the Commercial Crimes Court.

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The official also said skin lightening creams, which were banned in the country, were being sold illegally on the street.

“We are seizing all these products, and further investigations will be undertaken and more arrests will hopefully be made.

“We need to establish how these things get into the country because some of them are illegal,” police spokesman Major Thulani Zwane said at the scene.

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“We are raiding a few shops that are illegally selling medicine over the counter. These are schedule medicines; some are illegal in the country. Some you have to have a doctor’s prescription to use. We’re expecting more arrests to be made, but at this point we have arrested three suspects.”

A health department pharmacist said drugs were being sold as cosmetics and were “causing all sorts of damage” to unsuspecting and desperate consumers.

“Sometimes medicines are dangerous because of what they do. If you take medicine that is contaminated with something else, it can harm you.”

The Mercury

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