A khat consignment was intercepted in the Northern Cape. Photo: SAPS.

Northern and Western Cape police intercept khat shipment worth R500k

After his arrest, a truck driver said the khat was bound for Cape Town. The next day police accompanied the vehicle and nabbed one suspect after he showed up to collect the drugs. Another suspect escaped on foot and is at large.


A khat consignment was intercepted in the Northern Cape. Photo: SAPS.

A 44-year-old truck driver and another suspect were arrested in the Northern and Western Cape, respectively, this week in connection with a khat drug bust. The arrests came after Crime Intelligence Counter Narcotics in Kimberley received information about a truck that was transporting the drugs from Gauteng to Cape Town via the Northern Cape city.


Khat is a plant that can act as a stimulant that causes excitement, euphoria and loss of appetite. In some communities where the plant, which is native to Ethiopia, thrives it is part of ancient social customs.

However, it was classified as a drug of abuse by the World Health Organization in 1980, as it can lead to psychological dependence. The legality of the plant differs from region to region – it is illegal in South Africa in terms of Section 3 of the Drug Act.

According to News24, fresh khat leaves contain cathinone, which is a Schedule I drug, as per the Controlled Substances Act. When the leaves begin to deteriorate, which typically happens after 48 hours, the chemical composition breaks down and the leaves contain cathine – a Schedule IV drug.


On Monday into Tuesday, 12 July, the Francis Baard District Task Team were on the lookout for the truck transporting khat.

The vehicle was spotted on the N12 highway near Warrenton and it was brought to a halt at a petrol station nearby.

“The team searched the truck and found six boxes filled with a total of 145 plants of Khat drugs,” said police spokesperson Captain Olebogeng Tawana.

The 44-year-old truck driver revealed that the load was destined for Cape Town. The police say that the boxes of khat were branded with the names of the alleged receivers in the Mother City. The drug consignment is worth more than R500 000.

On Wednesday, the Northern Cape police facilitated the delivery of the khat to Cape Town.  

The recipients were told to meet the truck at the N1 1Stop petrol station near Kraaifontein to collect their wares.

However, they quickly fled the scene when they realised the police were present. A high-speed chase followed and the suspects eventually abandoned their vehicle and fled on foot.

“One suspect was arrested. One suspect is still at large,” said the police spokesperson.

The truck driver was arrested and charged with dealing in drugs while the suspect arrested in Cape Town faces charges of dealing in drugs, attempted murder and malicious damage to property. He is expected to appear before the Bellville Magistrate’s Court imminently.