/ 10 November 2021

541kg of cocaine stolen from Hawks office in KZN

Hamburg Customs Seize More Than 16 Tons Of Cocaine
Nearly 350 000 South Africans used cocaine before Covid-19 in 2020, consuming about 18 800 tonnes. (Photo by Bodo Marks/picture alliance via Getty Images)

The national head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks), Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya, has appointed his deputy, Lieutenant General Tebello Mosikili to lead an inquiry into the theft of R200-million worth of cocaine at the elite police unit’s offices in Port Shepstone, KwaZulu-Natal. 

A case of business burglary is being investigated following the break-in at the Hawks Serious Organised Crime offices over the past weekend. The suspects got away with 541kg of cocaine with a street value of R200-million.

According to Guy Lamb, a criminologist at the political science department at Stellenbosch University, such a theft suggests someone within the Hawks might have provided information to an organised criminal group.

“This was not random or opportunistic. This was clearly an organised job,” Lamb said.

“They knew about the seizure; they knew about the security features and mechanisms that were within the office, and how to circumvent them. And obviously weaknesses in the security systems.”

A Hawks statement said between Friday 5 November at 4pm and Monday 8 November at 7am suspects had gained entry into the building by forcing open the windows. One of the safes in the office, used to store exhibits, was tampered with.

Responding to a question about how long the Hawks were in possession of such a large quantity of drugs, spokesperson Brigadier Thandi Mbambo said the matter was subject to investigation and details could therefore not be disclosed.

According to Lamb, however, with such large quantities of high-value merchandise “you should be having much more rigorous security controls in place”.