Painkillers just increased robbers‘ headaches

Hendrick Mphande
mphandeh@avusa.co.za
A BRAZEN gang made off with headache pills from a Port Elizabeth forensic science laboratory instead of mandrax and cocaine valued at R83-million, which the police had earlier removed after receiving a tip-off.
This emerged yesterday during the bail application of forensic expert Sergeant Thando Tshazibane, 42, who is charged with providing floor plans of the Eben Donges building to the alleged thieves.
Warrant Officer Christopher Els testified in the St Albans court that he had become concerned after stumbling across sketches and maps indicating certain security features of the Eben Donges building during a raid on armed robbers in Walmer Heights.
“I became concerned as an investigating officer that they would break into the building where cocaine valued at R83-million recovered at the Coega harbour was being stored. It was pure cocaine which had a street value of R416- million. There were also other drugs such as mandrax.”
Els said that after obtaining permission from his superiors, they had removed all the drugs and firearms and replaced them with pain- killers before the robbers struck.
“Headache pills such as Panado were put in place of the drugs. The robbers did not know the drugs had been removed.”
Tshazibane, of New Brighton, worked in the laboratory‘s ballistics division until his arrest on January 10. He is facing two charges of conspiracy to commit armed robbery and violating the Disclosure of Information Act. He has been in the police service for nine years and has a previous conviction for fraud.
The bail application for his co-accused, Benzile Zwane, will be heard in two weeks‘ time. On the night of January 9 and in the early hours of January 10, six or seven armed men tied up security officials, ransacked the Eben Donges building and used angle grinders to cut open the laboratory‘s safe.
Yesterday, Els testified before magistrate Lungile Konza that his informers had told him where to find a group of armed robbers wanted in East London in connection with a G4 Security armed robbery.
He and his team went to Fallon Court, Lovemore Heights, where they pounced on Zwane. He said they had found documents in Zwane‘s travelling bag which contained sketches and maps indicating security features of the building.

Click here for more on this story in our e-Edition on Thursday.

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