Cocaine haul found floating in the waves

2013-12-27 00:00

HARTENBOS — A black sports bag filled with cocaine with an estimated street value of more than R8 million caused consternation in the predominantly Afrikaans resort of Hartenbos near Mossel Bay on Christmas Day.

Hundreds of holiday-makers gathered on the beach around the black sports bag, which was attached to a blue plastic 20-litre container.

Police officers unpacked 25 vacuum-packed plastic bags, which were reportedly filled with cocaine, on a portable bed in a medics’ wooden hut near the beach. The bag was later taken to the Da Gamaskop police charge office.

“We saw the bag floating at about 3.30 pm,” said a life guard, who did not want to have his name published for security reasons.

“The bag was quite deep, just behind the breakers. When the bag floated into the shallow water, we fetched it. I cut open the bag with a knife. When I saw what it contained, I called the police.”

The bag was tied to the floating container with red cables. It took two men to carry the load of alleged drugs from the water.

“The bag was heavy,” said Jan Snyman (38), an eye-witness. He helped the lifesavers to carry the bag to the medics’ hut.

Southern Cape police spokesperson Captain Bernadine Steyn said the bag containing what looked like cocaine was fished from the sea at about 4.40 pm and if it was indeed cocaine, the drugs would fetch around R8,75 million on the street.

“Each [vacuum-packed] bag weighed about a kilogram,” she said.

“The bags will be sent to a laboratory in the Cape where it will be weighed and tested,” said Steyn.

Snyman said he saw two people on the beach about two hours before the bag was spotted in the sea.

“It seemed as if they were taking photos of the [floating] container as it drifted closer. They left shortly after that,” Snyman said.

Mornay Beukes, manager of the resort, which was created for members the ATKV Afrikaans cultural organisation, confirmed the find.

Albert van Vuuren, a diving instructor from Gauteng, told Eugene Gunning he was on the beach when the bag was carried out.

Van Vuuren saw something strange floating in the sea shortly after 3 pm. After checking on it, he told life guards.

He said the bag had been floating in the sea for months, as shells had already attached themselves to it.

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