Cannabis store owner in court

More charges may be brought against the owner of a cannabis shop in Brits, the Brits Magistrates’ court heard during his appearance in court on Friday, 15 November.

Brits resident, Russell de Beer (48), owner of the Canapax shop in Van Velden Street, appeared in the Brits Magistrates’ court on charges of contravening the Medicine and Related Substances Act, as well as dealing in dagga.

He was arrested by the Serious Organised Crime Unit of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) and members of Forensic Science Laboratory and Local Criminal Record Centre on Saturday, 9 November, during a raid on the shop. Over 500 kg worth of cannabis estimated to be worth approximately R3 million, hydroponic tunnels for cannabis cultivation, various apparatus for processing and oil extraction and numerous other cannabis products were seized.

The Canapax shop in Brits.

According to Hawks spokesperson, Captain Tlangelani Rikhotso, De Beer who allegedly also sold about 70 franchises at R25 000 each for cannabis dispensaries countrywide, is a major supplier of cannabis and related products in the country.”

De Beer claimed to be operating under the Traditional Health Practitioners Act and Rikhotso said the investigation aims to clamp down on unlawful cannabis dispensaries opening up around the country that claim to operate legally in terms of the Traditional Health Practitioners Act (No. 22 of 2007).

During his appearance in court on Friday, it came to light that De Beer did not provide his residential address to arresting officers, only the shop address. In another turn of events, other Canapax “franchise owners” approached state prosecutor Phineas Mosuwe with information. They were referred to the Hawks investigating officer, Captain Tumi Sothoane. Mosuwe requested that the formal bail hearing be postponed to 22 November as more charges might be brought against De Beer. Magistrate Regan Rosenberg postponed the case for further investigation in respect of the bail application. De Beer remains in custody.