South African authorities have discovered over R85 million (US$5.8 million) in cocaine at port after panels were removed from a banana fridge inside a shipping container on the weekend.
The drugs were discovered on a vessel from Ecuador during an operation by the Ports of Entry team, according to the African News Agency (ANA).
Two containers on board the vessel were suspected of containing narcotics, said lieutenant colonel Katlego Mogale on Monday night.
"The suspected containers were on board a vessel that had docked in Port Elizabeth at the Ngqura Port. The team, which included Customs Investigations, the K9 unit and SAPS Border Police, were duly activated and the process initiated to trace and secure the two containers," he said.
"The inter-agency teams worked together and ensured that the targeted containers were removed to the container depot and upon opening the containers it was found that the contents were bananas as described on the bill of loading. The bill also indicated that the container was destined for Cape Town."
He said the banana cartons were physically checked inside and outside of the container.
While inspecting a rear refrigeration unit, a hidden compartment was discovered.
"Upon removing some of the panelling, the team discovered packages wrapped in brown tape. The panelling was removed and a total of 40 packages, which tested positive for cocaine, were discovered in both the containers," he said.