Durban - A great-grandmother, believed to be the queen bee behind a thriving drug operation in Woodhurst and Kharwastan, was recently arrested in a pre-dawn police raid with mandrax and cocaine hidden under her nightgown.
It has been alleged the 70-year-old woman and her husband ran the drug operation from their Sunset Avenue, Chatsworth flat.
Muniamah Pillay was allegedly found in possession of mandrax tablets, rock cocaine and cocaine powder with an estimated street value of R6 000; and R4000 in cash. The raid was carried out by police, the Hawks and metro police.
Pillay has appeared in the Chatsworth Magistrate’s Court on charges of being in possession of drugs and dealing in drugs.
She was released on R3 000 bail.
Her husband Poobalan “Billy” Pillay, 61, was arrested in 2018 during a multi-disciplinary operation with SAPS National Intervention Unit, K9 members and metro police.
His neighbour, Marlini Pillay, 55, was also arrested after police recovered over R100 000 worth of drugs from both their homes.
Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele said at the time, police seized 2765 capsules of heroin, 143 mandrax tablets, 48 pieces of rock cocaine, 2.1kg of dagga and R10 081 cash believed to be proceeds from the drug trade. The drugs had a street value of more than R100 000.
They were charged with dealing in drugs and released on bail. The matter is still under investigation.
Mbele said the raids would continue in Chatsworth in a bid to root out the proliferation of drugs in the area which contributed to serious and violent crimes.
A source close to the investigation alleged the couple began their drug business about 30 years ago selling dagga.
“About three years ago we received information they had started dealing in mandrax, heroin, rock cocaine, and cocaine powder. It seemed like the dagga business was not making enough money. They set their sights on more lucrative drugs.”
The source alleged the couple worked together, even roping in their children and grandsons to ply the trade.
“According to our information, the drugs are being supplied to the couple by foreign nationals in Durban. They are in turn selling it to the community of Woodhurst and Kharwastan, raking in hundreds of thousands of rands.”
The source said one major challenge they faced was the prosecution process.
“When drugs are recovered the court has to wait for an analysis report on the recovered substances. This can take months and in some instances cases are provisionally withdrawn. The charges are only re-instated when the report is ready.”
The source added that, during this time, dealers resumed their trade.
“This issue needs to be tackled so we can put these dealers away and reduce the drug trade in the community.”
Chatsworth Anti-Drug Forum’s Sam Pillay said it was unfortunate the sale of drugs was not limited to age. “Drug dealing has become a thriving family business. We know of families where the parents and their children are involved in the running of the ‘business’. There are even more than one generation with the youngest in their teens and the oldest being 70 years old.”
Pillay said most of these businesses were conducted from their homes which exposed young children to the drugs.
Residents, who declined to be named, called for drug dealers not to be granted bail.
“We see them running their business like it is nothing. When you look at them, they are an ordinary elderly couple, you would not think they are drug dealers. Their lifestyle is simple and not flashy; they try to operate without being noticed,” said a 55-year-old.
A 70-year-old pensioner said the court needed to be tougher on drug dealers.
“I have been living in this community for 30 years and I watched how his drugs have destroyed so many lives.
“Teenagers have dropped out of school and some have started stealing to support their habits. As an older man, he should know better but they are ruled by greed for money.”
A 60-year-old grandmother said the community was no longer sitting back.
“People are starting to speak up and are giving tip-offs to police, but despite being caught with drugs they are still getting bail and are out on our streets.”