Case collapses after police made ‘mistake’

2012-01-10 00:00

DRUG charges against an alleged Nigerian drug dealer, who was arrested with R5 million worth of cocaine in his possession, collapsed after police made a “mistake” when they weighed the drugs.

Chakuma Anaekwe, who is also known as “Kenny”, was arrested in June last year after police allegedly discovered six kilograms of cocaine in the boot of his car in Johannesburg. He was charged with drug dealing and incarcerated in Diep­sloot prison in Johannesburg. He was later released on bail.

Anaekwe faced a minimum sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment.

Last month, however, the state prosecutor was forced to issue a so-called nolle prosequi, meaning that the state cannot continue with Anaekwe’s successful prosecution.

Anaekwe’s attorney, Jacques van Heerden, said what was supposed to have been a straightforward prosecution turned into a mess because the police were either incompetent, corrupt or a mixture of both.

The police had either tampered with the evidence — two bags that contained the cocaine — or had made a terrible mistake.

When police arrested Anaekwe, they weighed the cocaine and stated that both bags contained exactly three kilograms each.

When the state prosecutor received the report back from the police’s forensic laboratory, it said there were, in fact, 6,375 kgs of cocaine in the bags — and not six kilograms as Sandton police stated.

It has also turned out that police opened one of the bags at the Sandton police station in order to search for Anaekwe’s finger prints.

Van Heerden says the evidence might have been tampered with and therefore no prosecution against his client can succeed.

The police spokesperson for Gauteng, Lietenant-Colonel Dlamini Lungelo, did not want to comment about the incident.

He said he would have to first study the dossier and didn’t want to speculate about possible police corruption leading to the collapse of the case.

Van Heerden, who was a narcotics policeman for 10 years before becoming a lawyer, said police usually don’t weigh “hard” drugs, but simply seal the evidence and send it to the forensic laboratory for confirmation and certification.

It is not known why the police investigators opened the bags or weighed it before sending it to the laboratory.

Anaekwe was arrested in June last year when he skipped a red traffic light. He tried to get away but police followed him.

He had an accident and allegedly tried to run away, but was arrested. Police then discovered the drugs in the boot of his car.

He was charged with drug dealing and incarcerated in Diepsloot Prison near Johannesburg. He was later released on bail.

Van Heerden said his client had pleaded not guilty and would have contended that he was not the owner of the drugs and that they had been planted in his car.

Although a nolle prosequi doesn’t necessarily mean that the case is dead, Van Heerden says there is absolutely no way that the state has any hope of successfully continuing with the prosecution.

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