Community opposed to bail for drug accused

2013-10-10 00:00

THERE is a public outcry against the scourge of drugs in Pietermaritzburg, where drugs are being sold to schoolchildren, leading to the commission of various other crimes like housebreaking and theft.

This is according to Mountain Rise drugs squad investigator Mahendra Balmookand, who is opposing the granting of bail to seven alleged members of a Northdale drug syndicate in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court.

Balmookand said the community has signed petitions indicating their frustration with drugs in the area and expressed opposition to the accused getting bail.

Magistrate Ashin Singh expects to give a ruling in the matter on October 18.

Pietermaritzburg couple Yasmin and Hoosen Mohamed stand accused of being the “kingpins” of the syndicate, which allegedly operated for many years from their property, and that of a relative, in Mars Crescent in Northdale.

The couple and their co-accused were arrested in August during a series of raids conducted by police following a four-month undercover operation.

State prosecutor Khumbu Shazi told Singh yesterday that the state has now officially added a charge of racketeering to the multiple drug trafficking charges faced by the couple and five co-accused — Norman Govender, Kubashen Nelson, Tony Ramthew, Azam Ismail and Suleman Sheik.

The case of an eighth accused, Sathiaseelan Naidoo, who is not charged with racketeering, is being dealt with separately.

Defence advocate Louis Barnard yesterday urged Singh to differentiate between the individual circumstances and previous convictions — or, in the case of Yasmin, the lack of them — when deciding whether or not to grant bail.

He said the court should also consider that Yasmin has a handicapped child who suffers from depression and who is being prejudiced by her incarceration.

But Shazi said the state has established the girl is currently staying with a family member.

She said the court should have regard to the fact that the child’s parental home was not a place where a child should have to stay.

“She [Yasmin] kept her in a place where drugs were being sold and which was visited regularly by members of the underworld and weird people,” said Shazi.

Shazi said the state was opposed to any of the accused being granted bail because they were a “criminal gang” who sold cocaine to people in Northdale.

According to Balmookand’s affidavit, the Organised Crime Unit embarked on an undercover drugs operation in October 2012.

Between October 2012 and February 2013 undercover agents had bought various amounts of cocaine from the accused on 11 occasions.

On each occasion, the agents allegedly dealt with two or more of the accused.

Balmookand said Yasmin and Hoosen Mohamed controlled the money and the supply of stock and employed the other accused as “drug runners”.

He said Govender and Nelson were currently on parole after being convicted previously for dealing in drugs.

Several of the accused have relevant previous convictions.

Balmookand said the case against the accused is “overwhelming” as police even have visual and audio footage of the drug transactions.

He also expressed concern that the accused know some of the witnesses in the case who could be intimidated if they are released on bail.

Shazi told the court that the prosecution did not want to reveal who these witnesses were but said they were “family members” of the accused.

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