Hawks probe disappearance of drugs allegedly stolen while transported by police
Hawks spokesperson Captain Simphiwe Mhlongo confirmed they were investigating the alleged theft.
The drugs were confiscated during a raid at a drug lab in Sunford. It has been hailed as one of the largest drug busts in Phoenix.
Gonam Govender, 40, was arrested and charged with possession of drugs. She appeared in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court and was released on R10000 bail.
It has been alleged that before the drugs were taken to the station, an estimated 237422 heroin capsules and 59kg of the heroin powder went missing.
It has also been alleged that CCTV footage of the raid from a neighbour’s home was missing.
A source close to the investigation said the drugs belonged to a businessman and relative of a man, who is serving a double life sentence for murder.
The source said the stolen drugs were brought in from a dealer from Unit 10, in Chatsworth, for distribution in Phoenix.
Lieutenant-Colonel Fazel Rajak, who conducted the raid, claimed he received a tip-off from a community member. The person had received the tip-off from Govender, now the accused in the matter.
“When I arrived at the home, we found five buckets and black bin bags in the kitchen. The bin bags were full of heroin powder. I recognised it by the colour and the smell. I also identified capsules that were pink and clear filled with the same substance,” alleged Rajak.
He said a capsule press, grinder and liquidiser - commonly used in laboratories that manufacture heroin or sugars - were found at the home.
“Because of the volume and the nature of the exhibits, and the fact that there is a special unit allocated to deal with such cases, I immediately asked my members to recuse themselves. This was to prevent the evidence, as well as DNA fingerprints, from being contaminated.”
Rajak said he contacted radio control and a supervisor, who requested he liaise with a team from the Organised Crime Drug Unit. “A warrant officer was sent through. I explained the case to him and informed him that the woman was a witness in the case. I then left the scene because my shift was ending.”
The following day, the community member who had tipped him off about the lab had complained that his relative (Govender) had been arrested.
He said he also learnt that the warrant officer from the drug unit had only handed in 12578 capsules of heroin and 1kg of the powder.
Rajak subsequently opened a case of defeating the ends of justice and theft of evidence against the warrant officer at the Phoenix police station.
Police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala confirmed the drugs had been stolen. “A case of defeating the ends of justice is being investigated by Phoenix SAPS.”
The chairperson of the Phoenix Community Police Forum, Umesh Singh, said: “This is not acceptable. Drug dens are mushrooming in Phoenix and so too are the number of addicts.”
DA MP Haniff Hoosen said: “Not too long ago, we marched to the Phoenix police station calling for the shut down of drug dens. We handed over a memorandum, with the names and addresses of 51 drug dealers operating in the community, and now, finding out that recovered drugs were stolen is a slap in the face. We want answers.”
Hoosen said CCTV footage from the incident was also stolen.
Sam Pillay, from the Chatsworth Anti-Drug Forum, said the drugs were probably back on the streets.
“These allegations must be taken seriously, especially when police involvement is suspected.”