Six people have been arrested for trying to smuggle ivermectin – which has been hailed as a treatment for Covid-19 – into the country through OR Tambo International Airport over the past two weeks.
Cape Town – Customs officials and members of the South African Police Services have apprehended six people trying to smuggle ivermectin tablets worth an estimated R6 million into South Africa via OR Tambo International Airport.
The suspects – four men and two women – all arrived on flights from India.
According to police, all six have already appeared in the Kempton Park Magistrate’s court on charges relating to the contravention of the Medicines and related Substances Act 101 of 1965.
“The unregistered medicine(s), which are mainly in a tablet form, are believed to have been imported for sale purposes and would have been utilized in the treatment of the Covid-19 virus,” Gauteng police spokesperson Colonel Athlenda Mathe said.
Earlier this week, Sahpra announced that it would facilitated the “controlled use” of ivermectin – which in this country is used as a treatment for parasites in animals – as more and more doctors demanded that they be allowed to dispense it to their patients.
The OR Tambo busts were a result of the Integrated Multi-Disciplinary law enforcement strategy in place at the airport.
“In the past two weeks, the team’s collaboration has led to the arrest of five people and the confiscation of unregistered medicine worth a market value of R6 million. The unregistered medicine which are mainly in a tablet form are believed to have been imported for sale purposes and would have been utilised in the treatment of the Covid-19 virus,” Gauteng police spokesperson Colonel Athlenda Mathe said.
On Thursday, two women and a man were arrested after being found in possession of a huge stash of the in-demand drug worth R5 million.
“The first female suspect was found to be in possession of 178 200 tablets, while the second female suspect was found to be in possession of 66 400 tablets. The male was carrying 49 200 tablets,” said Mathe.
The trio appeared before the Kempton Park Magistrates Court on Friday, where their case was postponed to February 1 for a formal bail application.
In the first bust on January 13, January 2021, a male suspect “was found to be in possession of a little over 24 000 Invermectin tablets worth a market value of R720 000. This suspect is currently out on bail.”
On January 26, two men were arrested after they were found to be in possession of a variety of unregistered medicines worth nearly R600 000, Mathe said.
“In this case, the first male suspect was found to be in possession of 18 085 ivermectin tablets worth a market value of R552 550.
“The second man was found to be in possession of Diclofenac sodium tablets, Chlorpheniramine maleate tablets, Amoxycilin tablets worth a market value of R25 000.”
Both men will remain in custody until they appear in court on February 1 for a formal bail application.