Cop on hit list for cocaine bust

2016-09-15 10:20
Cocaine recovered by police.

Cocaine recovered by police. (File)

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A hit was apparently put out on a well-known Pietermaritzburg policeman and the informants whose work led to eight people being arrested for dealing in cocaine.

This emerged yesterday from an affidavit filed by Warrant Officer Mahendra Balmookand in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court, in opposition to bail being granted to six men charged with dealing in small quantities of the drug.

The men are Gonasagren Nelson Govender (35), Santhan Krishna Manthiri (21), Naresh Harrichund (36), Hoosen Haniff (38), Yogasen Pillay (42) and Devendra Naidoo (47).

The state did not oppose bail for the only female accused in the cases, Jayshree Naicker (38), whose bail was fixed at R3 000 on strict conditions.

Judgment in respect of the six men will be delivered on September 21.

Govender, Manthiri, Harrichund and Haniff are allegedly linked to cocaine dealing transactions which occurred at Parsley Crescent in Northdale.

Pillay and Naidoo are charged (together with Naicker) with dealing in cocaine from an alleged “drug den” in Seagull Road in the same suburb.

The case of a seventh man, Avikar Lutchman, who was also arrested in the same series of raids early on August 13, returns to court on September 19.

Balmookand said the drug dens were raided by police and the seven men and Naicker were all arrested following a six-month undercover operation authorised by the director of public prosecutions in KZN.

The operation started in February this year.

He said in his affidavit that information had been received that a “murder hit” was planned in respect of alleged informers who had assisted the police with the investigation, and “especially the investigating officer” in the case (himself).

“This information came from a reliable informant close to the accused,” said Balmookand.

He said the threat was reported to the relevant authorities and is under investigation.

An affidavit concerning the planned hit was obtained from the informant, but it could not be disclosed in the bail hearing to avoid the person’s identity being compromised.

While Balmookand said the accused had “knowledge” of the plan, their legal representatives said their clients had been in jail since they were arrested and suggested they could not have been involved.

The men filed affidavits in which they said they will not evade their trial and that they intend pleading not guilty to the charges facing them, which were the result of “entrapment”.

Balmookand maintained that a number of the men have previous convictions and are aware that they face potential jail terms. He therefore considered them to be flight risks.

The policeman added that the public was pleased with the arrests. He handed in several letters from the community either praising the police, or appealing to them to crack down further on the drugs scourge in the area.

He said the case against the accused is very strong.

Balmookand said drug offenders go after the youth, who are “soft targets”, and added that drugs are responsible for adding to high crime rates in the city as addicts turn to crime to feed their habits.

“The lives of innocent people are endangered by addicts who sell drugs to feed their addiction,” the policeman said.

He said “thousands of families” suffer because of drug use, which results in “assaults, divorces, deaths and criminal records”.

WARRANT Officer Mahendra Balmoo­kand has spearheaded a number of high-profile anti-drug operations in the city in past years.

• In 2013 he was the investigating officer in a case in which seven drug dealers were arrested at houses in Mars Crescent and Jinnah Road in Northdale. The ringleaders, Hoosen Mohamed and his wife Yasmin, as well as five of their drug runners, entered into a plea bargainwith the state for racketeering and deal-ing in cocaine. They received jail terms.

• Balmookand was also involved in an undercover operation last year that led to the arrest of a man named as a state witness in the Rajivee Soni murder trial, Hoosen Shaik-Cassim, and Sagren Pillay, who were charged with dealing in cocaine.

• Balmookand was also the investigating officer in a case in which local couple Terrance Moonsamy and his wife Vigie admitted to dealing in cocaine at Jinnah Road, Northdale, during 2013. Cash of R36 569, at least 122 items of jewellery and other goods seized by police was subsequently forfeited to the state by court order as the proceeds of crime. 

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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