Komane appeals 18-year sentence for drug dealing

2010-08-30 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG businesswoman, Joyce Komane, has appealed to the high court to set aside her conviction on charges of racketeering, drug dealing, money laundering and forgery.

High court Judges Anton van Zyl and Jerome Mnguni are to give judgment on September 9.

Komane was found guilty of six charges last year arising from her association with the woman dubbed Pietermaritzburg’s “drug queen” Ramjini Chetty (40).

Chetty is serving a 24-year jail sentence for her role as the head of the drug syndicate, while Komane was sentenced to an effective 18 years imprisonment by regional court magistrate Chris van Vuuren.

Komane is currently still on bail of R40 000, pending the outcome of her appeal.

Her advocate, Fanie Slabbert, submitted yesterday that state witnesses who implicated Komane as Chetty’s main drug supplier were not credible or reliable, and their evidence should be rejected.

He said Komane was criticised for not being able to explain why witnesses would falsely implicate her, but said there was no onus on her to do so.

In addition Slabbert submitted that the State failed to analyse or link to Komane to any alleged “prohibited substances” she was supposed to have dealt in, including mandrax and cocaine.

Concerning the money laundering charges, Slabbert said there was nothing to show that Komane’s properties were not bought with money sourced from her legitimate businesses.

She testified that she owned a number of businesses including a butchery, restaurant, clothing store and a garage.

State advocate Wendy Greef has urged the high court to uphold Komane’s conviction on all the charges including racketeering.

Replying to a question by the judges as to whether or not the state had proved a link between the prohibited substances being sold from Chetty’s residence, and Komane, Greef said the “facts speak for themselves” and that this was the only inference that could be drawn from all the evidence.

“We know the only thing being sold from these premises was drugs,” she said.

Greef also submitted that the proceeds from Komane’s legitimate businesses would not have been enough to cover the bonds she registered over the various properties she bought. The State’s case was that drugs were the main source of her income.

*Two drug runners connected with Chetty’s drug enterprise — Surychand Maraharaj (55) and Bongi Dlamini (26) were each jailed for 12 years for the role they played.

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