Drugs: new twist in bid to seize assets

2012-04-17 00:00

STATE witnesses in the hearing of an application to seize Pietermaritzburg businesswoman Joyce Komane’s property changed their statements yesterday.

Komane was convicted and sentenced for racketeering, drug dealing, money laundering and forgery, and sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment by the Pietermaritzburg Regional Court.

She appealed the conviction and sentence before high court judges of appeal Anton van Zyl and Jerome Mnguni, who found that the state had failed to establish her guilt as a matter of certainty.

Her friend, Ramjini Chetty, was sentenced to 24 years‘ jail for heading a drug syndicate, and two drug runners, Surychand Maharaj and Bongi Dlamini, were sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment.

The state made an application in the high court to seize Komane’s properties, which include a flat, a house in Pelham and five cars, including a BMW and an Audi, and her R40 000 bail money on the basis that they were the proceeds of crime from her involvement in the drug trade.

Advocate Fanie Slabbert said Komane had other sources of income as she had a butchery, a garage and a boutique.

State advocate Mike Govindsamy led evidence by a state witness, Lucky Gordon, the first person to win the lottery in Pietermaritzburg, who is confined to a wheelchair. He testified in court that he and Komane had been friends for years, but that he did not receive drugs from her. However, in his affidavit he had said he had received drugs from Komane.

Gordon has a previous conviction for drug dealing.

When asked about the contradictory statements, he said he made the affidavit to please the officers who had taken the affidavit. He denied telling them that Komane was his supplier, saying his supplier was Eric Terry of Woodlands.

Komane’s former employee, Sindisiwe Makhwashu, who worked in Komane’s boutique, also changed her evidence on the witness stand, saying police did not write what she had said but “selectively wrote the things they wanted”.

In her affidavit she stated that the business was making R4 000 a month, but in oral evidence yesterday she said it was making between R10 000 and R15 000 a week.

High court Judge Rishi Seegobin said the affidavit showed that the business was not doing well, and the witness had said there was a break-in there which the police did not include in the statement.

The hearing continues.

• mlondi.radebe@witness.co.za

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