Africa-Press – South-Africa. Three men briefly appeared in the Athlone Magistrate’s Court on Monday following their arrest in connection with a massive cocaine bust worth more than R400 million.
Ebrahim Kara, 39, Meshack Mzungezi Ngobese, 47, and Elias Radebe, 42, face charges of drug dealing.
The men were arrested last week when the Hawks, along with Crime Intelligence and Western Cape traffic officials, acted on a tip-off and pulled over a truck on the N1, only to discover the massive stash of cocaine.
The operation was organised on the N1 freeway, and the truck was spotted at the Winelands Engen garage travelling towards Cape Town.
The vehicle was intercepted and searched along Jan Smuts Drive and the hidden drugs were discovered in false wooden boards at the back of the truck.
During proceedings on Monday, advocate Rueben Liddell, for the accused, told the court that the three men intended to plead not guilty.
“The allegations mentioned in court are just allegations, and I have been instructed that my clients intend to plead not guilty,” he said.
The State requested that the matter be postponed for bail information to be gathered. The State told the court that the truck had 672kg of cocaine.
The court postponed the matter to next Monday 15 August for a formal bail application.
The accused will remain in custody until their next court appearance.
Police Minister Bheki Cele attended court proceedings, along with Western Cape police commissioner Lieutenant General Thembisile Patekile.
Cele said that while officers were searching the truck, they also found 40 000 Mandrax tablets.
“There has been good work done by the police and Crime Intelligence. The investigation is still continuing, but we know that the drivers were travelling to Cape Town. We are chasing criminals, and what we have are the alleged criminals, which we are happy about,” he said.