Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ignorance plea in R600m drug bust case

Pretoria News
Ignorance plea in R600m drug bust case
January 19 2012 at 08:33am
By Kamini Padayachee

Cash and drugs confiscated during a drug bust in Johannesburg. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

Despite having sales of only R4 000 in nine months and being forced to “cook the books”, the manager of a Phoenix curio shop, who is accused of being a drug trafficker, believed he was operating a legitimate business.

Gopal Ganesh, who is charged with drug trafficking, is on trial in the Durban Regional Court. The State alleges that he, along with Morganathan Nadesan, Perumal Naidoo and UK nationals Paul Bromley and brothers Paul and John Beasley, were part of an international syndicate that smuggled hashish, dagga and heroin to the UK in battery casings and curios.

The five were arrested in September 2009 when the police raided five properties and discovered drugs to the value of R600 million. Nadasen and the Beasleys pleaded guilty to their roles in the syndicate in December that year and were each sentenced to an effective six years in prison. The cases against Bromley and Naidoo are pending before court.


Nadasen, in his plea, said he was instructed by Bromley, through Naidoo, to import empty battery casings from China and East London.

The Beasleys said in their pleas that Bromley told them to fill the casings with hashish, seal and package them.

Ganesh testified that he had been approached by Naidoo and Nadasen to manage the SA Cultural Curios shop in Starwood Mall in Phoenix, and also helped seal the casings.

During Wednesday’s cross-examination, Ganesh said he did not know he was operating a fake business.

“Naidoo told me the business was genuine. He later told me to record false sales which I was knew was wrong, but he said it was for tax purposes. I did not know it was a fake business. I just thought sales were quiet.”

Nadasen said Ganesh had been present when Naidoo told them that curios and casings destined for the UK contained “cheap s**** that the Pakis smoke”.

But Ganesh said he only suspected “something illegal” when batteries had to be moved from one place in Glen Anil to another. “But… I just did what I was told to do,” he said.

The case continues on Thursday.

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