A major haul of 143kg of cocaine in transit to West Africa has instead been transported to the SAPS forensics laboratory in Pretoria, after the police’s anti-smuggling unit intercepted the delivery at OR Tambo International Airport.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo in a statement said the consignment, valued at an estimated R50m, is one of the largest drug recoveries by the authorities in one of its ports of entry.

“During a normal routine search on Friday morning, members of the anti-smuggling unit based at the cargo section of OR Tambo found the drugs hidden in 147 hair product bottles,” he said.

“This cocaine consignment arrived from Brazil and information displayed on the cargo indicated that it was in transit to Cotonou, Benin in West Africa.”

Naidoo said police are trying to confirm if the consignment was indeed on the way to the specified destination and who the intended recipient is.

National police commissioner General Riah Phiyega said this bust “gives us a comfortable feeling that our ports of entry are manned by committed people, who understand the mission and mandate”.

“Although we would have loved to arrest someone in connection with this recovery, we take comfort in the knowledge that this huge stash did not find its way into any community in the country, where lives could have been ruined,” she said.

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