‘Drug queen’ co-accused ‘gave up drugs for alcohol’

2009-02-05 00:00

A co-accused of the woman dubbed Pietermaritzburg’s alleged “drug queen”, Ramjini Chetty, told a regional court magistrate yesterday he was previously “hooked” on drugs, but gave up the habit in 2005 after going to jail and has turned to alcohol instead.

The evidence was given yesterday by Surychand Maharaj (54), who denied allegations by the State that he was a “senior runner” in Chetty’s drug-dealing enterprise and helped her to sell cocaine and Mandrax from her premises at 19 and 21 Queen Street, Pietermaritzburg.

Maharaj said he was living at Queen Street with Chetty’s mother when he was arrested on November 25, 2005.

He testified that Chetty did not approve of thhe affair, but could “do nothing about it”, and left him alone.

Under cross-examination he admitted that he drove taxis for Chetty and delivered fish to her fishery.

Initially he testified that Chetty “did not work”, but later said she did at one stage work for an ice-cream business and sold clothing.

When asked where she got money from when she was not working, Maharaj said she had a “rich boyfriend, Parbhu” who is “now late” and who used to give them both money.

Maharaj admitted in his evidence before regional magistrate Chris van Vuuren that he has two previous convictions for drug offences.

On both occasions he pleaded guilty and was jailed for two years and six months respectively.

He said he was released from jail in June 2005 — just five months before his arrest in the present case.

He returned to Queen Street as he had nowhere else to live.

Maharaj said Chetty did not welcome him back, but when he told her he had given up drugs and turned to liquor instead she was “happy”.

Chetty, Joyce Komane, Maharaj, Bongi Dlamini and Jessendren Pillay have pleaded not guilty to 36 charges.

The are members of an alleged drug syndicate controlled by Chetty.

They face 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.

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