Jail terms for drugs duo to stand

2009-09-05 00:00

HIGH Court Judges of Appeal in Pietermaritzburg have confirmed the convictions and 20-year jail sentences imposed on a woman, Nobula Gamede, and a man, Ntenjane Makhanya, for dealing in 556 kg of methaqualone — used to manufacture mandrax — on farms near Newcastle.

Judge Kevin Swain with Acting Judge Nigel Hollis set aside the conviction and 20-year sentence of a third accused, Mthokozisi Gamede, on grounds that there was no evidence linking him to the activities on the farms.

The alleged “drugs factory” on two farms, Spitzkop and Mange in the Newcastle area, was discovered by police in June 2004.

Swain said the grounds of appeal the court had to decide were whether the prosecution had proved that gas chromatographs used to test the seized substances functioned correctly and were reliable; whether the analysis of the susbstances reflected in computer print-outs was accurate and whether it was proved that the three accused dealt in or manufactured methaqualone.

The appeal court was satisfied with the evidence on the first two grounds, but Swain said the conviction of Mthokozisi Gamede was clearly wrong.

He said no evidence was led to show that Mthokozisi Gamede had been seen previously on either of the farms, nor that he had been seen in the company of people “dressed in gloves, boots and gas masks who were clearly involved in the drug manufacturing process”.

The latter evidence was what decisively linked the other two to the drug-making activities.

With regard to Nobula Gamede, Swain said she was a poor witness and her “professed ignorance of the identity of individuals on the farm, who had been there for some time, as well as her professed ignorance of what they were doing on the farm, is grossly improbable”.

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