Cops find heroin worth R52 million

Riot Hlatshwayo

Riot Hlatshwayo

The discovery of R52million's worth of heroin at the Lebombo border post further points to criminals using Mozambique, mostly its harbour, as a smugglers' route into South Africa.

Police conducted a routine search on a truck in which two men aged 35 and 52 were travelling on Tuesday evening and discovered seven bags containing heroin .

Mpumalanga police organised crime unit spokesperson Captain Leonard Hlathi said a policeman tapped the bed of the truck and discovered a secret built-in compartment.

"Our police dog unit was summoned and the heroin was discovered," he said . The dog unit members' testing kit confirmed the drug as heroin .

According to Hlathi, each bag contained an average of 25kg totalling 183,7kg with a street value of R52 354 500.

The two men claimed they were unaware that the truck, which was also carrying old furniture and vehicle parts, was loaded with heroin .

"They claimed they had been asked to drive the truck from Mozambique to Johannesburg.

"We have also discovered that the older man entered South Africa many times through different border gates and left by various exit points since January," said Hlathi.

"The truck carries Gauteng registration plates and its licence disk has expired. Instead it has a Mozambican licence disk. This on its own calls for intensive investigation," said Hlathi.

Former MEC for safety and security Siphosezwe Masango held several symposiums with the police in the past to find ways of dealing with smuggling through this border gate.

Masango at the time said removing soldiers from manning border gates was "a big mistake".

At the time Masango was told about allegations of smuggling of vehicles, firearms, drugs and human trafficking and that led to a massive improvement of security at the border gate.

At one stage police confiscated more than 10 stolen vehicles in one weekend destined for neighbouring countries via Mozambique.

Meanwhile, a 45-year-old man was arrested after being caught with 274 cartons of illegal Remington and Pacific Blue cigarette brands valued at R54 230 at the same border yesterday morning.

All three arrested men will appear before the Komatipoort periodical court today.