Medicines bust: no bail for pastor

2011-03-15 00:00

A PASTOR of the Church of the Holy Ghost, Cyril Mhlonipheni Ngcobo, was remanded in custody yesterday by Hammarsdale magistrate E.S. Miya during a bail application.

Ngcobo (34) was arrested on Friday by the Durban organised crime unit after a tip-off that he was in possession of prescription medicine to the value of R1 million. The medicine was found in his office in the church premises.

He was charged with contravening the Medicines Control Act. The state opposed bail, asking that Ngcobo remain in custody for seven days as police continue their investigation.

Prosecutor Nokuthula Nkosi said the investigating officer is searching for a Dr Gumede, whose name appears on one of the computers confiscated from the accused as the supplier of the medicine.

Defence attorney Ramesh Luckychund objected that the prosecutor only opposed bail yesterday morning.

“Given the fact that the investigator has secured a laptop and a desktop computer [and] the consignment of medication, he has all the exhibits for his case.”

Provincial Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo said his department will be investigating allegations that Ngcobo was dispensing the medicines to the community.

“The first priority for public health is to protect our people from the harm caused by stolen, poor-quality and unsafe medicines.

“Last year the province spent R10,7 million on pharmaceutical products,” said Dhlomo in a statement.

He said that besides the loss of resources and the danger posed to patients’ lives, corrupt practices also allow the entry into the medicines chain of counterfeit and substandard products, further endangering the health of communities.

The case was adjourned to today for further submissions by the investigating officer.

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