Cops only had authority for drug sting, court hears

2014-10-27 14:22
(File: News24)

(File: News24)

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Durban - A police undercover operation into human trafficking, which led to the arrest of a Durban doctor and four others, was never authorised by the National Prosecuting Authority, the Durban Regional Court heard on Monday.

KwaZulu-Natal deputy director of public prosecutions Gert Nel said he had authorised only an undercover operation to determine who was dealing in crack cocaine.

"I did not authorise a human trafficking undercover operation," he said.

He was giving evidence in the case of Sandile Patrick Zweni, Nonduzo Dlamini, Bhaba Dubazini, and Dr Genchen Rugnath and his wife Ravina.

They have pleaded not guilty to 156 charges, including assault, rape, sexual exploitation of a child, and racketeering.

Zweni is alleged to have operated a prostitution ring with girls as young as 12 from Rugnath's hotel, the Inn Town Lodge.

Nel told the court he was the sole person in KwaZulu-Natal responsible for authorising undercover operations in terms of section 252(A) the Criminal Procedures Act.

This section regulated the conduct of the police when applying the principle of entrapment.

The section provided the criteria that should be used by the courts when deciding whether to allow the evidence of the "trap" to be used in the criminal trial.

Nel said he would receive an application together with an affidavit from police before agreeing to authorise such an operation.

He became aware that the case had moved from a drug-related case to a human trafficking case only after the five were arrested.

"As far as I was concerned the accused were before court and the horse had bolted. There was no instruction that could change what had already happened."

Rugnath claims he knew nothing about prostitution taking place at the hotel, located in Durban's notorious Point Road area - known for its red-light activities - and left the running of his hotel to his manager Veena Budhram.

Budhram was initially charged but has since turned State witness.

Read more on:    police  |  npa  |  durban  |  crime  |  narcotics

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