22 November 2012

Namibia: Court Acquits Accused ?Drug Dealers?

Windhoek — This could very well be a classic case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time, Magistrate Ingrid Unengu said on Tuesday when she acquitted Zola Pius Gawushe (27) a South African national, and Fikiri Said Maudwanga, a Tanzanian national (39) on all charges in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court.

Magistrate Unengu said the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the cocaine found in a room the pair rented from a notorious drug dealer was in their possession or that the two were dealing in the drugs.

After summarizing the evidence submitted by both the State and the defence, Unengu said she could come to no other conclusion that the version put forward by the defence was the most convincing.

Before providing the reasons for her ruling, however, Unengu said she wanted to clear up a common misconception that when a defence application for a Section 134 discharge is dismissed, the court must find the accused guilty.

A Section 134 application is when at the close of the State's case the defence applies for a discharge on the basis that insufficient evidence exists for a reasonable court acting carefully to convict an accused person.

She said whether a prima facie case exists or not the State has a duty to consider all facts before it. She said in this case the option of the second accused to remain silent was offset by the testimony of the first accused, which basically exonerated the co-accused.

She said while the cocaine was found in the room the two accused shared, the State could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that the drugs were in their possession.

Gawushe and Maudwanga were accused of dealing in 1 075 grams of cocaine worth N$537 500.

They were allegedly caught with 42 cream, bullet-like tubes wrapped in plastic and cellotape and another 12 stuffed in green socks in Windhoek's Pionierspark suburb on May 11, 2010. Laboratory reports confirmed that the 'bullets' were 5.7 to 6.2 cm in length and contained 49 percent and 46.4 percent cocaine respectively.

The two faced one count of dealing in a controlled dangerous dependence-producing drug and alternatively a charge of possession of controlled dangerous dependence-producing drugs. Both accused pleaded not guilty in October 2010, when their trial started and were denied bail.

Copyright © 2012 New Era. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.