Durban – The seven people who were arrested and charged for allegedly dealing and manufacturing in drugs valued at about R50 million were granted bail in the Durban Magistrate’s Court a short while ago.
Accused Zainudeen Abrahams, 52, Malicent Skippers, 36, Joseph Groenewald, 39, Jamie May, 33, Stephinie Hamke, 25, Randall Jacobs, 36 and Natasha September, 32, all from Cape Town, wept as they were released.
Abrahams was granted bail of R15 000 and the remaining 6 accused were released on R5 000 bail.
The seven have remained in police custody since their arrest on March 1.
Members of the Provincial Organised Crime Unit and the eThekwini inner south cluster’s provincial drug and firearm unit swooped on an alleged drug lab operating from a warehouse in Springfield Park and Westville.
Police seized a tablet press machine, about 10 000 mandrax tablets, 60 dyes, and about 40 000 empty capsules on the premises.
Members thereafter proceeded to a home in Westville, where about 20kg of methaqualone (mandrax) powder was found.
In an affidavit presented to the court Durban attorney Ridewaan Sayed said his client Abrahams had come to Durban after being offered a lucrative job opportunity at a medicine manufacturing business.
“I was informed I would be working at medicine manufacturing factory – the medicine would be used for the treatment of HIV and cancer.”
Abrahams said he was promised a salary of R7000 a week.
“ I was asked if I could get six workers, who were required to work shifts and would earn R4000 a week.”
He said part of the deal was offering them accommodation.
Abrahams further referred to an Ismail Chetty in his affidavit for being responsible for all substances and chemicals.
“I genuinely believed we were manufacturing and packaging medicine as the product looked like proper tablets and capsules and were produced by proper machines.”
The father of four further said in his affidavit that he had fixed assets, he owned a house and Quantum vehicle which was operated as school transport in his hometown.
Abrahams further said he was not in possession of a passport and would not abandon his family and live as a fugitive.
He intends pleading not guilty.
In separate affidavits read out by their attorney, Kiran Subajan, the other six co-accused said they had been recruited to work at the medicine manufacturing factory by Abrahams and were informed they would earn R4000 a week.
“The offer was good, when one takes into cognizance the area we come from and the life we live,” said the accused in their affidavits.
Magistrate Vanitha Armu said there was no evidence presented to court to suggest the applicants were a flight risks or would interfere with state witnesses.
“With all technology, the court finds it would not be difficult for the investigating officer to monitor the applicants,” she said.
The seven accused are to report to their respective local police stations once a week, as per their bail conditions.
The matter was adjourned to July for further investigations.