Chetty dealt in drugs since 1990s, says brother

2008-05-08 00:00

A brother of alleged Pietermaritzburg drug queen Ramjini Chetty, told the regional court yesterday of his sister’s drug dealing activities dating back to the "early 1990s".

He said at one stage she owned a fishery for "less than six months" and operated a taxi service for "about a year". Her only other employment was her drug business, the court was told.

Goonasilen "Gavin" Chetty testified that he bought drugs on his sister’s behalf from Nigerian drug dealers in Durban and Pietermaritzburg, and that he had also sold drugs — cocaine and mandrax — on her behalf from her two properties at 19 and 21 Queen Street, Pietermaritzburg.

He testified that she introduced him to her co-accused, Joyce Komane, in Sobantu. After that he periodically picked up "parcels" of drugs, mainly "rock cocaine" from Komane in Sobantu and Pelham.

He said he initially agreed to collect drugs from Nigerian dealers on his sister’s behalf in Durban because he was unemployed and she paid him R150 to R200 to do so. She also gave him bank bags containing payment for the drugs, which he handed to the dealers.

Chetty said when he started selling drugs from Queen Street, Ramjini showed him how to "cut" the cocaine, which they sold wrapped in plastic in amounts worth R50, R100, R400 or a "whole piece" worth R1 600.

Customers would ring a bell for service or "shout" for someone to assist them. Business was sometimes conducted over the wall.

He identified all of Ramjini’s co-accused in the case as having been involved in his sister’s drug business. The other three are Surychand Maharaj, Bongi Dlamini and Jessendren Pillay.

He said some customers would telephone and order drugs, and someone would deliver to them. He sometimes did this.

Before Chetty’s testimony yesterday, Scorpions advocate Wendy Greef told magistrate Chris van Vuuren that Chetty did not feel he could "speak freely" in public as he has had "threats", and also reported that people "visited his mother’s house". She requested that the public gallery be cleared.

Defence advocate Fanie Slabbert said people have the right to hear the evidence and suggested that Chetty identify the people he was afraid of, who could then be removed.

Chetty said his nephew threatened and swore at him and his wife and said he has also been "followed". He told the court he was "worried" about all the people in the public gallery and said he would be more comfortable if the court was cleared.

But he agreed to give evidence in open court after a discussion.

Asked by Greef about his relationship with his sister, Chetty responded: "We always fight".

The accused face 36 counts in all including two of racketeering, 26 of dealing in cocaine, seven counts of money laundering and one of fraud.

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