Loads of dagga cleared

2015-12-17 10:30
An excavator begins work removing one section of a 1,5?km stretch of marijuana near the Darvill sewage plant.

An excavator begins work removing one section of a 1,5?km stretch of marijuana near the Darvill sewage plant. (Amil Umraw, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - In what is arguably the biggest marijuana discovery in Pietermaritzburg history, police on Wednesday began destroying a vast plantation.

Police are still trying to piece together an investigation into who is behind the plantation, which spans a 1,5-km stretch on the banks of the Darvill Sewage Works near Lincoln Meade.

The jungle of marijuana, including some “trees” taller than four metres, was discovered about two weeks ago by Alexandra police Vispol commander Lieutenant-Colonel Mmeli Ngubane.

Since the discovery, police have been in negotiation with the Msunduzi Municipality and environmental experts to decide on how to remove the marijuana without harming surrounding farms and livestock.

Yesterday, equipped with two tip trucks and two excavators supplied by the municipality, police watched as the first area was cleared out.

More than a dozen truck loads of dirt and marijuana trees were removed, with officers also getting down and dirty in the mud to remove smaller plants in bushy areas by hand.

Police say the removal of all the marijuana will be completed by next week.

According to uMgungundlovu South police cluster commander Major-General Lucas Ngobeni, the discovery came as a stroke of luck while a police officer was patrolling the area.

Ngobeni said housebreakings in the Lincoln Meade area were on the rise, and according to police information, the burglars were using dirt roads near the sewage treatment facility to escape into Tamboville after committing their crimes.

While patrolling these routes, Ngubane — a seasoned Pietermaritzburg officer — stumbled upon one section of the plantation and alerted his colleagues.

It was only after assessing the entire area that police realised the magnitude of their discovery.

When The Witness arrived at the site yesterday, a large portion of the first section of the plantation had already been removed.

Members of the Hawks and the police’s national and provincial top brass — including KZN police commissioner Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni and police national divisional commander for human resources Lieutenant-General Lineo Ntshiea — accompanied Pietermaritzburg police as they inspected the area.

Ngobeni said that while she applauds the members’ success, the large quantity of marijuana is also a cause for concern.

“We would have expected for the community to inform us about such a large plantation of drugs in plain sight in an open area,” Ngobeni said.

“Nevertheless, I would also like to thank the municipality and all other role players involved in making the removal of the plants a success”.

The police revealed where the drugs were taken to be destroyed, but asked The Witness not to disclose this information.

• amil.umraw@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  dagga

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