Woman acquitted of drug charge

2009-09-16 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG businesswoman Joyce Komane was acquitted by a regional magistrate yesterday of alleged possession of a small quantity of the prohibited drug methaqualone contained in a single mandrax tablet that police claimed to have found in her purse in March this year.

Acquitting Komane yesterday, magistrate J. Jacobsz said that in his view there are unsatisfactory aspects in the evidence of Komane as well as the two police officers who testified for the state, Captain Dayalan Govender and Captain Rumen Maistry of the crime intelligence unit.

Under the circumstances he was unable to find Komane guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The magistrate said one unsatisfactory part of Komane’s evidence was her claim that she was searched by a male police officer. The claim was denied by the state witnesses who said she was taken to Mountain Rise police station to be searched by a female officer.

Jacobsz was also not satisfied that the police who carried out the search of a vehicle and Komane’s handbag obtained permission, which would be required to make it a legal search.

In a statement to the court, which Komane confirmed in later testimony, she said she and a certain “Wiseman” had gone to see Surychand Maharaj at about midday on March 4 in Erna Road, Northdale. Police arrived and said they wanted to search the house for drugs as they had information there were drugs there. They requested permission to conduct a search of the house, but despite being granted permission, did not do so and in fact only searched Wiseman and Komane.

Komane said the police then stated they wished to search vehicles outside. Wiseman, whose car it was, was requested to unlock the door which he did using a remote control. The vehicle was then searched.

Komane said she saw a police officer take possession of her handbag, which was in the vehicle and search it without her permission. She requested that he put everything on the ground, but he refused and continued to search the bag.

The officer “suddenly claimed” that he found a piece of a mandrax tablet in Komane’s purse and she immediately denied this, because she knew that there was no such tablet in her purse. She then contacted her lawyer.

Komane was overjoyed after the verdict. She is currently on bail pending her appeal in connection with her recent conviction — along with Pietermaritzburg “drug queen” Ramjini Chetty — for dealing in cocaine and money laundering in respect of which she was sentenced to an effective 18 years’ imprisonment.

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