A SOUTH African single mother who was caught smuggling cocaine worth about N$1,35 million into Namibia in late 2009 was sent to prison for an effective six years this week.
The offence which Kondela Kona (27) admitted and was convicted of is without doubt of a serious nature, Magistrate Sarel Jacobs remarked with her sentencing in the Windhoek Regional Court on Monday.
Drug dealers are unscrupulous criminals, and the courts have a duty to protect society from elements like them, the magistrate said.
Namibia is being threatened by offences relating to drugs, he also remarked.
Kona was arrested at Hosea Kutako International Airport east of Windhoek on November 3 2009, after she had arrived in Namibia on a flight from Luanda.
She was arrested after Police officers discovered cocaine hidden in her handbag. Kona initially denied that she knew she was carrying drugs with her when she entered Namibia, but in the Windhoek Regional Court on March 22 this year she changed her plea to one of guilty on a charge of dealing in dangerous dependence-producing drugs.
Kona admitted that when she arrived at the airport she was carrying 2,7 kilograms of cocaine, which had a street market value of N$1,35 million, in her handbag.
In a written plea explanation she informed Magistrate Jacobs that she had travelled from São Paulo in Brazil, via Luanda, to Namibia with an Angolan airline.
After passing through an immigration checkpoint at the airport she was approached by Police officers who told her that the route she had travelled was suspect, and that they wanted to subject her to an X-ray examination, she stated.
"I became scared and immediately informed them that the handbag I carried contained cocaine," Kona said.
The magistrate was told that Kona is a single mother who was also taking care of her younger brother at the time of her arrest. She was unemployed when she committed the offence.
Magistrate Jacobs commented that Kona knew what she was doing when she tried to smuggle the cocaine into Namibia. He said he had no doubt that she considered the consequences of her actions, but nevertheless persisted in carrying out the plan she had embarked on. She had no concern for the lives she was about to ruin by acting as a supply line for cocaine, he said.
He added that the court would fail in its duty if it did not send out a message to importers of drugs that even first-time offenders like Kona could be sent to prison without the option of paying a fine if they are convicted in Namibia.
The magistrate also said he was taking into account that Kona had been in custody for about two years and five months before she was sentenced.
He sentenced her to eight years' imprisonment, of which two years were suspended for a period of five years on condition that Kona is not convicted of dealing in or possessing dangerous dependence-producing substances committed during the period of suspension.
Defence lawyer Titus Mbaeva represented Kona. Public Prosecutor Cliff Lutibezi represented the State.