Judge rules on mandrax farm

2007-12-15 00:00

A Pietermaritzburg high court judge has authorised the forfeiture of a portion of a farm in Newcastle, Spitskop, where mandrax was being manufactured during 2004.

He said it was common cause that drugs in the form of mandrax "in large quantities" were manufactured on the premises. It was plausible to infer from the state of pots and equipment found by the police and the presence of R69 000 cash on the farm, that the drugs were manufactured there for a considerable period Judge Chris Nicholson said in a reserved judgment handed down yesterday.

The portion of the farm forfeited is 1 242 096 hectares.

The owner of the farm, Samuel Africa Mazibuko, told the court he paid R300 000 for the farmland between the end of 2002 and January 2003. He denied all knowledge of the drug manufacturing operation.

Mazibuko claimed that he had leased the farm to Tanyani Justice Makhunga, whom he had known since he was a boy in order to run cattle and produce manure.

Judge Nicholson said he was surprised by evidence that Makhunga, an erstwhile taxi driver, paid the agreed annual R10 000 rental "up front" within a week and that there was no paperwork to substantiate it. In fact Mazibuko did no paperwork for the farm at all.

"All this points to the farming operation being a front for the drug manufacturing exercise," the judge said.

Nor had Makhunga brought any cattle to the farm at all.

Nicholson said the only inference to be drawn was that Mazibuko was either involved directly in or acquiesced to the manufacture of the drugs.

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