Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

Police investigators in KwaZulu-Natal confirmed that their joint operation with London police has established that an estimated 300000 British pounds (about R5,5 million) found in a luxury 4x4 at Durban harbour was destined for Zimbabwe.

The loot was amassed from a series of armed robberies and heists in central London.

London police arrested two Zimbabweans in early December in connection with the armed robberies.

Earlier information released to the media stated that the joint SA-London investigation started after the discovery of the 4x4 at the weekend.

But investigators said yesterday investigations had started in December .

The provincial government yesterday congratulated local detectives for their great work. "When it comes to [solving] organised crime, our port and our detectives are among the best in the world. This is good news and our detectives must be congratulated.

"Durban port is where we have made several drug busts that have led us back to their countries of origin."

Investigations operations manager Superintendent Johan Meeding said: "We were contacted by the UK police through Interpol who sent us a legal request for our intervention in mid-December when they arrested the two Zimbabwean nationals.

"We were asked to be on the lookout for a vehicle linked to the suspects."

Meeding confirmed that the vehicle and cash were on their way to Zimbabwe.

"It is believed that the two men were due to arrive in South Africa from London. We assume they would have fetched the vehicle at the Durban port and driven it to Zimbabwe.

"It is unclear whether there was a third person involved. The package will be taken for further forensics investigations."

Meeding said he did not know the motive behind the money being smuggled into Zimbabwe but said it was suspected that, given the economic downturn in that country, "the robbers wanted to make themselves very rich".

Meeding confirmed that the case was closed.

He said all the exhibits, including the handgun found in the vehicle, would be send to London to be used in the trial of the two men.