Big fines for drugs couple

2009-02-08 00:00

A Woodlands couple, Trevor and Theresa Hollenberg, each received hefty R100 000 fines in addition to correctional supervision and a five- year suspended jail term on Friday after pleading guilty to seven charges of dealing in drugs, including cocaine and ecstasy.

Regional magistrate Jan Venter said he believes the sentences err “on the lenient side”.

The magistrate agreed to the sentences proposed in terms of a plea bargain agreement entered into by the state and defence.

He said drug-dealing is a scourge that must be eliminated as evidenced by recent “very serious drug busts” seen in South Africa.

Venter was reluctant to grant a request by the Hollenbergs’ advocate, Brad Osborne, that the couple be allowed to pay their fines in installments over five years, saying this was tantamount to allowing criminals “to pay on credit”.

However, after he was told about the government’s Asset Forfeiture Unit’s intention to seize the couple’s home and other property, and their dire financial circumstances, he agreed that they can pay in installments totalling R3 500 per month.

Venter warned the husband and wife that if either of them misses even “one payment”, their suspended sentence of five years’ imprisonment will be invoked and they will go to jail.

In addition to the fines, the Hollenbergs were sentenced to three years under correctional supervision.

During this time they will be required to perform 1 000 hours’ community service each and attend programmes aimed at equipping them to become better members of society.

Two men who helped the couple to sell drugs in Woodlands, Gavin Lesley Wallace and Nicholas Hollenberg (Trevor Hollenberg’s nephew), pleaded guilty to lesser charges of dealing in drugs.

They were each sentenced to a fine of R1 000, one year’s imprisonment conditionally suspended for five years and three years under correctional supervision, including 300 hours’ community service, in addition to attending rehabilitation programmes.

Wallace admitted he sold two pieces of cocaine and four ecstasy tablets to an undercover police agent in November 2006.

Hollenberg admitted he sold four grams of cocaine to police undercover agents on November 21, 2006, while serving patrons at the Hollenbergs’ residence at 10 Jacaranda Avenue with drugs and alcohol as he was instructed to do.

Theresa and Trevor Hollenberg said in their statements they were lured into dealing in drugs by the prospect of making a quick profit.

Drug-dealing is rife in Woodlands and they did not think they were doing any harm as “people all around” were either using or selling drugs, they said.

Trevor Hollenberg said he wanted to “make a name for himself” in Woodlands and concluded that being a drug dealer would make him popular and provide him with notoriety.

The couple said they are remorseful and are active churchgoers at the Destiny Chapel.

They have young children.

Advocate Yuri Gangai represented the director of public prosecutions.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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