Couple in drug bust in court

A COUPLE appeared in the Malelane magistrate's court yesterday in connection with the discovery of R2,6million worth of mandrax tablets at the Lebombo border post.

A COUPLE appeared in the Malelane magistrate's court yesterday in connection with the discovery of R2,6million worth of mandrax tablets at the Lebombo border post.

Cyril Mzwakali, 54, and his wife Olga Mzwakali, 34, were not asked to plead on charges of dealing in illegal drugs, and the possession and transportation of illegal drugs.

They were remanded pending their next court appearance on September 8 for further investigations and a possible bail application.

The couple were arrested on Sunday afternoon when Constable Senzeni Madubandlela of the border police discovered the tablets after establishing that the luxury Audi A6 in which the couple had been travelling had a secret compartment in the boot.

Madubandlela searched the secret compartment and discovered 55 bags, each of which had 1000 mandrax tablets, and arrested the couple.

The couple, from Western Cape, denied dealing in drugs and claimed they had borrowed the car from a friend in Cape Town to use to travel to Mozambique for a cleansing ceremony.

"We recovered 70,55kg worth of Mandrax tablets shortly after midday.

"There were 55 packets containing the tablets, whose value has been estimated at R2,6million," said Mpumalanga police spokesperson Captain Leonard Hlathi.

"After the arrest the couple claimed the car belonged to a friend in Cape Town and that they had borrowed it from him.

"They claimed that the drugs might have been tucked in the secret compartment in the boot without their knowledge," Hlathi said.

It is not the first time that Madubandlela has discovered drugs that were allegedly smuggled into South Africa through the border post.

"This is the same policeman who earlier this year discovered R52million worth of mandrax tablets hidden in a secret compartment in the back of a truck," Hlathi said.

Asked how he managed to discover the secret compartments, Madubandlela said: "I was one of the members who attended a special course to deal with secret compartments.

"The suspects usually tell tales when you look at them, so you already realise that something is wrong before you start looking for secret compartments," said the proud Madubandlela.

Meanwhile, investigations into the disappearance of R3,75million worth of drugs that were at a police station after being confiscated from the same border gate in June are still continuing.

The drugs were stored in the offices of the police's organised crime unit in Nelspruit, and were to be used as an exhibit in the trial.

But the drugs disappeared a few days later, leading to the provincial acting police commissioner Rex Machavi relocating the members of the unit.

The Lebombo border post has always been problematical to the local police after it was established that most drug dealers used the entry point to smuggle incontraband.

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