Court confirms PMB woman’s jail term for drugs

2007-12-19 00:00

South Africa is gaining notoriety as a centre for drug trafficking, high court judges of appeal commented yesterday when they confirmed an effective one-year jail sentence imposed on a Woodlands woman convicted of possessing 9,8 grams of cocaine.

Zeneth Hutchinson (45) of Peach Road pleaded not guilty at her trial to possessing the drug and claimed that police who arrested her “framed” her. She claimed they found a parcel with the cocaine in a neighbouring yard, and wrongly alleged that she possessed it. The incident occurred on April 21, 2005.

Police testified that when they confronted Hutchinson at her home that day, she was tightly “gripping” the parcel with the drugs.

Judge Shyam Gyanda with Judge Jan Combrink found her evidence was “invented and false”.

Advocate Louis Barnard urged the court to consider imposing a sentence of correctional supervision on Hutchinson, arguing that she cares for a number of children.

However, Gyanda said her sentence — 18 months’ imprisonment of which six were suspended — did not strike one as unduly harsh. He said possessing cocaine is probably one of the most serious contraventions of the country’s drug laws. He said the sentence should act as a deterrent.

The judge said an inevitable consequence of any jail sentence was the impact on innocent family members of an accused.

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