The police in Bloemfontein were so busy counting bank notes to the tune of almost R22 million that they didn’t have time to delve deeper into the identities of two Durban men who had been nabbed with four money-filled suitcases at the city’s Bram Fischer Airport.

Magistrate Paula Berry heard in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court that the identity of Mahomed Raeel Baig, 25, of Sherwood and Mahomed Hoosen Ismail, 49, of Overport, had to be verified before they could apply for bail.

Baig and Ismail appeared in court on Thursday on a charge of possession of suspected stolen goods.

According to the provisional charge sheet, they had been arrested on Tuesday afternoon after being found in possession of four suitcases full of money.

They apparently had R9.1m in South African currency and almost $1m in cash in their possession unlawfully.

Vic de Bruyn, for the State, said it took police a day to count the money. At one stage the machine used for counting had broken and the police for that reason had not had time to check the men’s addresses, passports and identity documents.

“We have to verify that the men are who they claim to be before they can apply for bail,” he said.

Du Bruyn said it was suspicious that the men had travelled by car from Durban to Bloemfontein to catch a flight to Cape Town.

The explanations they gave for having the money were also questionable, he said.

The State suspects that the money was stolen because neither of the two could offer a satisfactory explanation as to why they had so much money in their possession.

One of them apparently said it had been an inheritance. The other alleged that it was money from his catering business.

Baig and Ismail will appear in court again next week when a date will be set for a formal bail application.

They remain in custody.