Six Indian nationals arrested at OR Tambo with ivermectin, other medicines worth R6m

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Ivermectin medicine found from five Indian nationals at OR Tambo International Airport
Ivermectin medicine found from five Indian nationals at OR Tambo International Airport
Supplied by SAPS

  • Six Indian nationals have been arrested at OR Tambo International Airport for trying to smuggle medicine - including ivermectin - into South Africa.
  • They were separately arrested on different days and are expected back in the Kempton Magistrate’s Court for a formal bail application.
  • The six were caught as a result of an "integrated multi-disciplinary law enforcement strategy".

Six Indian nationals have been arrested for attempting to smuggle unregistered medicine - including ivermectin - worth R6 million into South Africa.

The suspects, two women and four men, were arrested in three different stings at OR Tambo International Airport.

They were arrested as a result of an "integrated multi-disciplinary law enforcement strategy", including the police, SARS and the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority Law Enforcement Unit (SAHPRA).

Police spokesperson Colonel Athlenda Mathe said, over the past two weeks, this had led to the arrests and the confiscation of unregistered medicines worth R6 million. 

The medicines, which are mainly in a tablet form, are believed to have been smuggled in to the country to be sold on the black market.

They had all appeared in Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court, "facing charges relating to the contravention of the Medicines and related Substances Act 101 of 1965", Mathe said.

"In the latest arrests, three people were arrested on 28 January. Of the three, two are women and one is male. The first female suspect was found to be in possession of 178 200 tablets, while the second female suspect was found to be in possession of 66 400 tablets. The male suspect was found in possession of 49 200 tablets. All unregistered medicines are worth R5 million.

"All three suspects appeared before the Kempton Park Magistrate's Court on Friday. Their case has been postponed to 1 February for a formal bail application,” said Mathe.

READ | SAHPRA to allow for ivermectin use in Covid-19 in 'controlled, compassionate' programme

In another incident at the airport on Wednesday, the team pounced on a man who was found to be in possession of more 24 000 ivermectin tablets with a market value of R720 000.

The man is currently out on bail.

The other arrest took place on 26 January, when two men were found in possession of a variety of unregistered medicines.

"In this case, the first male suspect was found to be in possession of 18 085 ivermectin tablets worth a market value of R552 550. The second man was found to be in possession of Diclofenac sodium tablets, Chlorpheniramine maleate tablets, and Amoxycilin tablets worth a market value of R25 000," Said Mathe.

Both men were arrested and appeared in the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court where their case was also postponed to 1 of February for a formal bail application.

Mathe said the accused had been charged with being in possession of unregistered medicines without authorisation and importing medicines without a licence from SAHPRA.

According to Section 22(c) of the Medicines Act, anyone who wishes to import medicines into the country must have written authorisation from SAHPRA, he said.

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