Drug mule case collapses

2012-03-10 00:00

FUNDAMENTAL flaws in the analysis of the substance found in an ­Imbali woman’s luggage at King Shaka International Airport led to the charges of drug trafficking and dealing in drugs against her and her friend being withdrawn yesterday.

Her attorney, Abdul Shaikjee, told Weekend Witness that the flaws in the analysis of the substance, which police alleged was cocaine, might suggest that tampering with the evidence had taken place.

There were tears of joy at the Verulam Magistrates Court as 28-year-old Nomathemba Sweetness Hlela and Chukwudi Williams Emerony (30) left court yesterday.

They said they were relieved and happy to be able to continue with their lives.

They have spent the past two-and-a-half weeks in police custody following their arrest on February 23 at King Shaka International Airport.

Police had claimed that Hlela was a kingpin in a drug trafficking syndicate.

At the time Hlela was arrested, police said she was in possession of 540 g of cocaine allegedly found in her luggage.

Commenting on the analysis of the powder, Naicker said it “was not to determine what it was but to establish if it contained any prohibited substance”.

“Possibilities are that the suspect may have been tipped off that the police were awaiting their arrival and the drugs could have been replaced with ordinary talcum powder. The intelligence could have been leaked to the police as a ruse to get the police off the scent of a fellow drug carrier who was bringing in a consignment. These are merely speculative theories but the fact remains that the case against the suspects was withdrawn due to there being insufficient evidence.”

Speaking to Weekend Witness, a visibly relieved Hlela said: “I am happy that this is over and I can continue with my life. I want to express my thanks to my family for their support, but I won’t be in a position to say anything about this case because I know nothing about the allegation of drugs the police say they found in my luggage.”

Both families were in court yesterday, but Emeronye’s family did not want to comment.

Hlela’s mother, Margaret Mkhize, and other family members were elated that the ordeal was over.

The family did not want to go into details on whether she is going back to Dubai. She said her goodbyes to her family, thanking them, and then joined Emeroye’s family, leaving the courthouse with them.

According to the family, she left home in 2009 to work in Dubai as a nurse. She wrote saying she couldn’t return home, “because of her contract”.

Shaikjee said his clients have not made any decision on whether to sue the state.

• mlondi.radebe@witness.co.za

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