Saturday, May 26, 2007

Irrigation scheme a white elephant

More than R200-million spent on an irrigation project in Limpopo appears to have gone to waste, SABC television news reported on Friday.

The availability of water and electricity were not considered during the programme's initial planning and there was no water available in its installation area, according to the Friday night report.

Some of the R100-million worth of irrigation equipment had been vandalised. - Sapa

Friday, May 25, 2007

GM truth 2

"The world would be a better place to live if more people smoked cannabis than drank alcohol,"

George Michael, also defended his use of cannabis.

"I'm not going to pretend that my drug of choice is not marijuana, because it is," he said.

"We could sit here with any number of policemen and doctors and they would all tell you if everybody who had a dependence on alcohol changed their mind and had a dependence on weed, the world would be a much easier place to live in.

"What I am saying is that nobody ever came home stoned and beat up their wife."

The singer plays a second straight night on Saturday in Aarhus, Denmark, on his 25 Live European tour that will see him become the first artist to play the new 90 000-seater Wembley Stadium in London, something he described as a "dream come true."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Scorpions burn 3 900 bricks of dagga - "It's a feel-good occasion"

Standing outside a warehouse, Scorpions head Leonard McCarthy held up a shrink-wrapped, one-kilogramme brick of dagga and smiled for the cameras.

Behind him, workers inside the building were pushing four tons of the drug into a furnace to be incinerated - about 3 900 bricks with an estimated street value of R364-million, had the bricks reached their destination in England.

"It's a feel-good occasion," McCarthy said. "Scorpions in the Western Cape have punched a hole in organised crime."

The burning put a ceremonial cap on Operation Appleton. In July, the investigation led to the largest seizure of contraband in the Western Cape yet.

It was also the largest success yet in Project Red Cross, the Scorpions' two-year-old initiative targeting South Africa's drug syndicates.

Members of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) will not discuss the specifics of the programme for fear of tipping off criminals about their methods.

The project has its sights on international traffickers and importers and exporters who deal in the largest and most valuable drug loads and who have made South Africa a hotspot in the global drug trade.

The Scorpions had not gained extra manpower or funding for the effort, but officers were using resources more strategically, said NPA deputy spokesman Tlali Tlali.

"We are operating on the basis of what we have," he said. "We will not fold our arms and say it's not enough."

This translated into extra emphasis on fundamentals like information analyses and following up on even the smallest leads, he said.

In the case of Project Appleton, the tip-off seemed unextraordinary at best, said Jannie Stamatiadis, a Scorpions special investigator and the project's manager.

An ordinary theft complaint spurred the investigation, largely on a hunch. The Scorpions found the dagga - a seedless variety grown in Mozambique and prized on the European market - packed into the apple containers, two days before they were to be shipped to England.

A South African and two British nationals have been arrested. The investigation continues. Cape Times

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

'Apple box' drugs go up in smoke

About four tons of dagga seized before it could be smuggled out of the country in apple boxes is due to go up in smoke on Wednesday.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Phumzile Kotane said on Tuesday that drugs, mostly dagga, were seized in the Scorpions' Operation Appleton in Cape Town, which foiled an international drug trade worth about R364-million.

"Operation Appleton ended in July 2006 with the arrest of two British nationals and a South African. The trio was caught in the act of concealing tons of drugs in boxes of apples which were being exported," said Kotane.

"A warehouse used to store more drugs was later discovered by the investigators.

"It was clear that the intention was to smuggle the drugs into the United Kingdom."

The three were convicted of trafficking in drugs and given sentences ranging from five to 12 years and fines.

NPA spokesperson Tlali Tlali said the drugs could not be destroyed until the court case and any appeals were over.

"You don't interfere with exhibits of evidence until the trial is concluded."

The drugs are due to be burnt in the Western Cape on Wednesday afternoon. - Sapa

Monday, May 14, 2007

Cops dump guns, drugs on city tip

A haul of home-made guns, knives, cellphones and drugs, including tik, have been found at a municipal tip near Muizenberg - all of it believed to be evidence dumped by police.

There were at least 30 knives, homemade BB-type guns and drugs, including dagga, Mandrax and scores of tik straws and lollies.

The stash also included a large number of ampoules containing a local anaesthetic called Xylotox.

Attached to some of the items were police case numbers from last year and, on one official forensic laboratory bag, the name of a Mitchell's Plain constable. Cape Argus
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