Drug den: On busy days earned R9 000

2008-09-29 00:00

On a “slow” day cocaine sales at a Pietermaritzburg drug den would bring in between R4 000 and R5 000 and on busy days the day’s takings could be in the region of R9 000, a state witness giving evidence at the trial of Pietermaritzburg’s alleged “drug queen” Ramjini Chetty and four others said yesterday.

Ashley Govender, who was a friend of Chetty’s son, Bradwyn, and a former co-accused of Chetty, Joyce Komane, Surychand Maharaj, Bongi Dlamini and Jessendren Pillay, who are currently on trial, had charges against him dropped fourteen days after his arrest and agreed to turn state witness.

Under cross examination by defence advocate Fanie Slabbert yesterday, Govender denied that the only reason he had implicated the accused in the charges was to avoid being prosecuted himself.

He denied that Scorpions investigators “promised” he would not be prosecuted if he gave evidence for the state, and said they explained to him that if he gave evidence truthfully in court and the magistrate believed he had been truthful the magistrate could give him indemnity against prosecution.

Responding to their denials that they were involved in drug dealing activities Govender said they were “lying”.

Govender told regional magistrate Chris van Vuuren of two occasions in 2005 that he was personally involved in the delivery of cocaine on behalf of the drug syndicate to a customer called “Kevin” at a garage in Hayfields.

On one occasion, Maharaj asked him to drive him to the delivery point, and later the same night he drove Chetty there. On each occasion they sold a “quarter jaw” of cocaine to the customer.

Govender claimed Chetty charged the client R450 for the cocaine plus a R50 fee for petrol.

He testified that he saw Komane at Chetty’s residence in Queen street on a few occasions when Chetty was “cutting” cocaine for sale.

Govender alleged that he saw cocaine being sold by the accused at Queen street, and identified Pillay and Dlamini as “runners” for Chetty.

He said there were “many times” that Pillay came to 19 Queen street and “tapped” on the hallway window to fetch drugs for customers. Whoever was “serving” at that time would open the window and he would ask for the amount of cocaine he required.

There were pieces of cocaine available for R50 or R100, while a “full jaw” cost R1 600, or half a jaw R800 .

Govender said cocaine was sold seven days a week. Takings varied from R4 000 to R5 000 when it was quiet up to R9 000 when it was busy. He said he only ever saw Chetty, Bradwyn or Dlamini “cut” cocaine.

Chetty and other members of the alleged drug syndicate went on trial in the Pietremaritzburg Regional Court in May this year. They have pleaded not guilty to 36 charges including two charges of racketeering, 26 of dealing in cocaine (or alternative charges of possessing cocaine or conspiracy to deal in the drug), seven counts of money laundering and one of fraud.

At the start of the trial charges were provisionally withdrawn against another accused, Sibusiso Dlamini, who had disappeared. The state alleges that Chetty was the alleged leader or manager of the “drug enterprise” and that her co-accused took orders from her.

Komane was not an employee of the enterprise, according to the charge sheet, but is described as a “close associate” and the main supplier of illegal drugs to the enterprise.

Maharaj, Dlamini and Pillay allegedly sold drugs to the public.

The enterprise allegedly operated its drug dealing activities from two premises at 19 and 21 Queen street from around 1997 to November 2005.

The trial will resume on October 6.


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