House raided in drug bust ‘an open secret’ in suburb

2014-11-07 00:00

THE police sting that netted five men and ecstasy with an estimated street value of R85 million worth of started with a covert surveillance operation on Konigkramer Street in Westville on Sunday.

Two days later, police seized the drugs and South African Gregory Ayres (45), co-owner of a popular nightclub on Florida Road, and Bulgarian national Valari Nikolov (41) appeared in the Middleburg Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday after being arrested at Middleburg Toll Plaza in Mpumalanga.

Ayres business partner, the owner of the Westville home and two other men were arrested later that day.

The three men are expected to appear in the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court today.

Sources yesterday told The Witness that police had had the Westville home under surveillance for almost two years.

The Witness visited the modest home and found a padlocked gate. Two vehicles, both Mercedes Benz, were parked on the property. Four large dogs barked wildly as the team looked through the window.

Clothes had been scattered on the floor and some on a mattress in the messy room.

Neighbours said they were shocked to learn that their neighbour had been arrested.

A man, who asked not to be named because he feared for his life, said: “Police have been surveilling him since he moved in. Apparently they had set up a sting and they watched what was happening at the house.” The curious man who kept peering at the house said police were seen in the area as early as Sunday.

“I never suspected anything. We didn’t even know that he owned clubs until yesterday.

“This is a quiet area, everyone keeps to themselves here,” he said.

Another neighbour said: “That guy was a known drug dealer in the area, it was an open secret.”

The neighbour, who has lived in the area for more than 30 years, said the businessman knew how to entertain his guests without disturbing the peace.

Another neighbour said: “He had an odd braai now and again but they never made noise, [or held] parties [that] went on until late at night. His girlfriend managed one of the clubs.”

“We never knew anything about the raid,” said another neighbour.

A domestic worker told The Witness that the businessman loved his dogs. “He owns nine dogs, seven big ones and two small ones,” she said.

It was business as usual at the popular Florida Road nightclub yesterday. When asked for comment, the manager said: “No comment.”

South African National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence applauded the police for making the arrest. “There is a serious problem among the youth in terms of drug addiction. The youth are using all sorts of drugs and it is crucially important for people to get help,” said national co-ordinator Louina LeRoux.

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