- 10 suspects arrested for the R583m cocaine haul off the coast of Saldanha have appeared in the Vredenburg Magistrate's Court on a charge of drug dealing.
- According to the NPA, more charges are likely to be added.
- The case was postponed to 12 March for the State to secure interpreters.
The 10 suspects arrested for the R583 million cocaine haul along the West Coast earlier this week, appeared in the Vredenburg Magistrate's Court on Thursday.
The suspects, four of Bulgarian descent and six from Myanmar, were in the dock on charges of drug dealing with an alternative charge of illegal drug possession after police, in an elaborate operation on Monday, found 973 blocks of compressed cocaine on a shipping vessel off the coast of Saldanha.
Police at the time said investigations were underway to determine the origin and intended destination of the consignment.
National Prosecuting Authority Western Cape spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said more charges were likely to be added as the investigation continues.
He said some of the Bulgarian men understood some English, but when the defence tried to consult with the Myanmar men, "they were met with blank stares".
Aseu Ivanov, Mario Vasev, Atanas Bikov and Borislav Atanasov are all of Burgarian descent living at one address in Century City, Milnerton, according to the charge sheet. Khin Aung, Kyaw Kyaw Han, Thaw Tin Win, Nyein Win, Zin Oo Kyaw, Kyaw Thu Win are from Myanmar.
"The defence asked that the State must arrange interpreters for the accused to ensure that their rights are protected. They requested that the accused must not be booked out or interrogated without the presence of an interpreter," Ntabazalila said.
"However, the issue of not booking one of the accused who can speak English was changed after consultation between the police and the defence as further investigation needed to continue."
The case was postponed to 12 March for the State to secure interpreters.
Ntabazalila said the court was informed that there was a registered Bulgarian interpreter available, but that there would be a challenge to secure an interpreter for the accused from Myanmar.