Bail for ‘drug den’ accused opposed

2011-10-07 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG magistrate Reard Abrahams will decide on October 18 whether to grant bail to four men and a 16-year-old youth who face multiple counts of dealing in cocaine, mandrax and ecstasy from a house at 176 Erna Road, Northdale. The offences were allegedly committed between March and June this year.

The accused seeking bail are Sathyanand (alias Sunil) Harrichand (47), Ashraf Mohamed (39), Tony (alias Goondoo) Pillay (48), the youth and Narainsamy (alias Two Gees) Vankia (51).

Advocates Louis Barnard and Martin Krog, who appeared for the accused yesterday, submitted that it is in the interests of justice for their clients to be given bail, while state advocate Yuri Gengai urged the court to keep them in custody on the grounds that if released they would in all likelihood continue to commit similar offences or abscond.

Responding to defence submissions that a condition could be imposed on the accused not to visit 176 Erna Road pending the outcome of their trial, which would effectively close the house as a “drug den”, Gengai said the drug dealing would then move to a different address. He said the state has a strong prima facie case against all the accused.

The investigating officer of “project detox”, which led to the arrests, Warrant Officer Deon Fleming, said on affidavit that police received information about a drug syndicate or enterprise supplying crack cocaine and mandrax in Northdale and operating from 176 Erna Road.

The syndicate was allegedly headed by Harrichand, who made use of various “runners”, including the other accused, to sell drugs on his behalf.

An undercover operation was authorised by the Director of Public Prosecutions. An agent “successfully transacted with members of the syndicate/enterprise on 12 occasions in total”.

The reason so many transactions were conducted was to find out how many roleplayers there were, who they were, where the drugs were stored and, if possible, to identify the drug suppliers.

Harrichand was arrested on August 25, immediately after the agent had allegedly bought 56 units of crack cocaine from him. Marked money was allegedly pointed out by him in a cash register in his bedroom and more money was found in the cash register and a beige money box, Fleming said.

He said a variety of “drug paraphernalia” was also recovered.

Outlining his grounds for opposing bail, Fleming said Harrichand claimed to be a professional gambler and Fleming had been unable to ascertain that he had any meaningful form of income.

He had been making deposits into a bank account of his common-law wife, Ashika Singh, which has a credit of more than R200 000.

Fleming said Harrichand has a number of previous convictions for drug offences; Mohamed has three previous convictions; Pillay has one previous conviction and a pending case; and Vankia has three previous convictions and a pending matter. The 16-year old told him he is unemployed and not attending school.

Fleming said that at the time of his arrest the youth was “unco-operative” and lied about his age.

If he were released he would continue to deal in drugs, if not for Harrichand, then for some other drug dealer in the area.

Fleming submitted that the state’s case against the accused is “overwhelming” and will give the accused a motive to evade their ­trial.

Krog submitted that the case is weak as it is based entirely on the evidence of a single police agent.

• ingrido@witness.co.za

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