Pretoria - Three men will spend Christmas in jail after the police pulled over a 10-ton Isuzu truck and found cocaine said to be worth about R403 million hidden inside the cargo section of the vehicle.
According to the SAPS, 672 bricks of cocaine weighing 672kg were found hidden in sheets of pine wood.
Driver and IT specialist Ebrahim Kara was arrested with Meschack Ngobese, a building subcontractor, and Elias Radebe, an e-hailing driver.
Although two of the men are from Gauteng, the three were arrested in the Western Cape and are awaiting trial on drug trafficking charges in a jail in that province.
The lower court denied them bail, and they took their plight to the Western Cape High Court, which now also denied them bail.
The main reason for denying bail is the fear that they might seek to evade trials. Their passports being surrendered was not a suitable answer to the fear of flight risk, since it was public knowledge that Home Affairs has regularly been reprimanded by the courts in relation to its tardiness and bureaucratic ineptitude, the high court said.
The court was also concerned that the three – between them – said they could pay R500 000 bail, despite saying they earned meagre salaries. Judge Patrick Gamble said it seemed as if a third party would pay the bail on their behalf.
The three have been behind bars since August, and while they claim to know nothing about the extraordinary amount of cocaine found in the truck, they remain mum as to their association with it.
The SAPS told the court that they knew who the owner of the vehicle was, but did not want to divulge this information at this stage.
The three relied on a series of rote allegations in their individual affidavits in their bid for bail, which bore a remarkable similarity in structure and content. “The term ‘cut and paste’ comes to mind,” the judge said.
They pointed out that they are all family men with various dependants whom they support and all have clean criminal records. Each also claims to be gainfully employed.
A police officer testified that the alleged perpetrators had been under police surveillance since the end of July.