Police probe drugs, gems link after bust

POLICE in Pietermaritzburg are investigating a possible link between a diamond syndicate and a cocaine-smuggling group operating in the province.

This follows the arrest of a man who was found with cocaine and cut and uncut diamonds in his car at the corner of Longmarket and Thomas streets in the KwaZulu-Natal capital at the weekend.

Mobeen Ganie, 29, appeared briefly in the Pietermaritzburg magistrate's court yesterday. He was charged with the illegal possession of diamonds, whose value was estimated at more than R1million, and possession of one gram of cocaine.

He was granted R20000 bail and the court ordered him to surrender his passport and report at Mountain Rise police station daily.

Ganie's arrest comes after a lengthy police investigation in and around Pietermaritzburg.

Ganie is the son of Osman Ganie, a former uMsunduzi councillor.

Police spokesperson Joey Jeevan said Ganie was allegedly found with diamonds and some cocaine. Jeevan said police did not rule out the possible existence of a cocaine and or diamond syndicate operating in the city.

"We cannot rule out the possibility of an international syndicate, but police are investigating all possibilities," Jeevan said.

Police said when Ganie was arrested, he told them he was waiting for a certain man to take him to a prospective buyer.

Some of the diamonds were packed in a black plastic DVD case, while others were in plastic packets. Police sources close to the investigation told Sowetan that Ganie was allegedly selling the diamonds on behalf of someone else.

"More people might be arrested. It is clear that drugs and illegal diamonds have been smuggled into the city. Ganie is not in the jewellery business nor is anyone in his family," Jeevan said.

Police confirmed they were waiting for experts from Kimberley to come and identify the diamonds.