Ex-cop jailed for peddling

2016-07-13 10:42
Convicted cocaine dealer Leon Govender.

Convicted cocaine dealer Leon Govender. (Ingrid Oellermann, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - Former Pietermaritzburg policeman Leon Govender was on Tuesday jailed for six years for dealing in cocaine.

Govender was a policeman for seven years, but resigned from the SAPS after he was found in possession of drugs, his advocate Mergen Chetty said yesterday.

He is married and has two children.

Govender was sentenced yesterday by Durban regional magistrate Anand Maharaj. Maharaj was called in to preside over the case after regional magistrate Bhekizitha Phoswa was forced to recuse himself after being involved in a car accident with Govender.

The state had alleged that Govender “planned” the collision with Phoswa’s car on June 3 to delay his sentencing in the matter and state advocate Yuri Gangai initially applied to cancel his bail. However, when Maharaj took over as magistrate, he said he felt it best to proceed immediately with sentencing proceedings, instead of focusing on the bail issue which then became irrelevant.

Govender’s six-year sentence was handed down in relation to two counts of dealing in 4,27 grams and 4,25 grams of cocaine, to which he had pleaded guilty in October 2015. The offences occurred in August 2014. The cocaine involved in the transactions was valued at R3 000 in respect of each count.

In argument, however, Gangai stressed that Govender was in fact “in the business of dealing in dangerous, addictive drugs, in particular cocaine”.

Gangai said the cocaine was sold to various customers in small packets, and it was obviously a business as far as Govender was concerned.

He said this was the important fact, and not the quantity of cocaine involved, as was argued by the defence.

The court heard that Govender also had a previous conviction for dealing in cocaine, for which he received a suspended sentence of 18 months plus a R2 000 fine. That offence was committed in January 2014 — the same year as the present offences.

He also has a pending drug-related matter in the high court. The investigating officer, Warrant Officer Deon Fleming, testified that after Govender had appeared in the high court in that case, he left court and drove to Durban, fetching drugs en route. “On his return … I pulled him over and searched his vehicle and I recovered five to 10 grams of cocaine,” he said.

Sentencing Govender, the magistrate took into account that he had pleaded guilty and shown remorse for his crimes. He said, however, the fact that Govender had a previous brush with the law for dealing in cocaine and had continued with his illegal activities seemed to show he did not care if he was caught. “Unfortunately for you, you were caught,” he said.

He said he did not believe a sentence of correctional supervision coupled with jail time — which would result in Govender possibly serving only a 10-month stint in prison — would send the correct message about the seriousness of dealing in drugs.

“If too lenient a sentence is imposed, then it creates an impression that the crime is worth the gamble,” he said.

He said peddlers should know they would go to prison if caught. The law provides for sentences of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for dealing in drugs.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime  |  court  |  saps

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