Durban: An Indian-origin woman in South Africa, who runs a lucrative chutney manufacturing business, is facing charges of being part of a multi-million rand drug syndicate.
Umie Mahomed has denied any involvement in the drug racket after being arrested with 11 others during a police raid in the upmarket suburb of Umhlanga Rocks here.
Police reportedly found most of the accused packing drugs worth 5 million rand into straw during their search, but all 12 people denied having any link to the 100,000 heroin tablets found on the property.
Mahomed, granted bail of 100,000 rand by the Verulam Magistrate`s Court, said she was shocked to learn police believed her to be the kingpin behind the drug racket.
She said she was a housewife who ran a successful chutney business using traditional Indian recipes handed down by her family.
Two other accused, 60-year-old Haroon Omar and Burundian national Hassan Gihunga, have previous convictions for drug trafficking.
The trial will resume on March 7 as the court has agreed to give authorities time for a fuller investigation.
Neighbours of the accused said they were shocked at the revelations, as people living in the quiet street in the leafy suburb full of large luxurious homes rarely saw them interacting with each other.
"But if this was going on right under our noses in our neighbourhood without us knowing, it becomes quite a scary thing," said one neighbour who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.