The discovery of R104m worth of heroin at a South African border, apparently smuggled from Mozambique, could lift the lid on illicit drug networks run by underworld operatives, an informant has said.
Hawks officers are investigating the allegations.
The informant, who goes by the name Mr Wick, and who has ties to the underworld, told News24 on Thursday that the heroin was linked to a particular older faction which controlled the majority of the country’s drug trade.
It was understood the heroin may have been destined for Cape Town.
In the Western Cape recently, a newer underworld faction has been taking over security at nightclubs from an older underworld faction – activities which have turned violent and resulted in several shootings.
The club security matter is understood to be linked to the drug trade, in that some establishments are viewed as crucial turf from which to peddle drugs.
On Monday, the R104m worth of heroin was intercepted and members of the Richards Bay organised crime unit, along with Crime Intelligence officers from Empangeni and Pretoria, arrested three men.
According to a police statement, Crime Intelligence officers from Pretoria had gathered information about a certain vehicle which was going to enter South Africa, via the Kosi Bay port of entry, with drugs.
“The task team at the port of entry was immediately activated and the described vehicle was stopped and taken to a nearby police station for a thorough search,” it said.
“Several bags of drugs which were allegedly fetched from Mozambique were found concealed inside a makeshift compartment underneath the vehicle.”
A man, 27, was immediately arrested.
Hawks officers, according to the statement, then followed up on information gathered during the investigations.
This information led them to Gauteng, where two more men, aged 24 and 29, were found with R50 000 cash, and arrested.
All three suspects were set to appear in the Emanguzi Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.
Mr Wick told News24 that one of those arrested had divulged who he worked for.
The person, for whom he apparently works, was allegedly a key figure in the older underworld faction.
Mr Wick said he had passed on information about the drug bust, and its ties to the underworld, to authorities.
He said members of the older faction had been travelling between Johannesburg and Cape Town recently.
News24 understands that members of the newer faction had also been doing so.
Mr Wick said the bust proved that police were acting on tip-offs and were intent on getting illegal drugs off the streets.
National Hawks spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Netshiunda told News24 that the allegations relating to the underworld would be investigated as part of a broader probe.
“We investigate holistically, we don’t pick and choose anything,” he said.
Netshiunda would not say whether the claims relating to the underworld had been detailed to investigators.
“We cannot divulge that,” he said.
The new underworld grouping is said to be under the leadership of businessman Nafiz Modack.
This grouping is the one said to be effectively hijacking the control of nightclub security from the older, more established faction.
The takeover has resulted in at least three people being wounded in shootings at popular Cape Town establishments since April.
Several murders also appear to be linked to the takeover.
In one of the more recent shootings, Jerome “Donkie” Booysen, named by a police investigator as the head of the Sexy Boys gang during a court case a few years ago, was wounded in the neck and shoulder early in May.
Sources said he had been on his way to visit another man, who was also shot, in the Cravenby area.