Eight bust in drug lab near Green­mar­ket Square

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - CARYN DOL­LEY

A SUS­PECTED drug- man­u­fac­tur­ing lab­o­ra­tory was un­cov­ered in a most un­likely spot yes­ter­day: prime premises op­er­at­ing as a mas­sage par­lour and over­look­ing tourist hot-spot Green­mar­ket Square.

Eight sus­pects were ar­rested dur­ing a lunch­hour raid. Po­lice swooped on the busi­ness sit­u­ated on the sixth floor of the JDN House, be­tween St Ge­orge’s Mall and Green­mar­ket Square.

Other busi­nesses in the build­ing in­clude a jew­ellery de­sign and re­pair com­pany and var­i­ous of­fices.

When Week­end Ar­gus ar­rived on the scene, some­one at the front desk of the build­ing said no one was al­lowed in as po­lice were busy with an oper­a­tion. She con­firmed a mas­sage par­lour op­er­ated on the sixth floor.

At one stage an­other po­lice van ar­rived at the build­ing and a po­lice­man in a foren­sics uni­form emerged.

A few young women were later led from the build­ing into the back of a po­lice van.

Other po­lice of­fi­cers car­ried out a big black con­tainer crammed with items.

Po­lice spokesman Lieu­tenant-Colonel An­dre Traut said of­fi­cers from the Len­tegeur Crime Pre­ven­tion Unit had been fol­low­ing up on in­for­ma­tion.

“They searched the premises, which led to the dis­cov­ery of a white sub­stance of about 3kg sus­pected to be co­caine, and equip­ment nor­mally used to man­u­fac­ture drugs.”

Four men and four women, aged be­tween 18 and 36, were ar­rested for al­legedly man­u­fac­tur­ing drugs.

They are ex­pected in the Cape Town Mag­is­trate’s Court on Mon­day.

Ear­lier yes­ter­day, I was tak­ing pho­to­graphs out­side the build­ing and was ac­costed by a po­lice­man not wear­ing stan­dard uni­form.

He grabbed my right arm, grabbed my phone from my hand and shouted at me.

He re­fused to hear my ex­pla­na­tion that I had not pho­tographed any of the sus­pects, was a re­porter, and was in a pub­lic space with noth­ing to in­di­cate it was a crime scene.

The of­fi­cer pulled me roughly, con­tin­u­ously squeez­ing my arm and ini­tially re­fus­ing to re­turn my phone.

He threat­ened to ar­rest me and at one stage shouted: “And we must be scared of you?”

An­other po­lice­man was told to erase any pho­to­graphs on the cell­phone, but when he searched, found noth­ing that needed to be deleted.

The older po­lice­man who first ac­costed me crum­pled up and threw my busi­ness card aside when I tried to prove my iden­tity.

None of the other sev­eral po­lice of­fi­cers present in­ter­vened.

Yes­ter­day Traut en­cour­aged Week­end Ar­gus to lodge an of­fi­cial com­plaint with the Cape Town Cen­tral Po­lice’s man­age­ment so the in­ci­dent could be in­ves­ti­gated.

Week­end Ar­gus is pur­su­ing the mat­ter.


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