10 May 2013

Namibia: Ephedrine Suspects Get Lawyer

Windhoek — Vetuu Uanivi was appointed as the legal representative for the two women who were found in possession of a huge consignment of Ephedrine, Magistrate Tuvoye Nuule was told on Tuesday.

While the case was originally postponed to Tuesday for the laboratory results, it appeared on Tuesday that the two foreign nationals made a complete turnabout on their first decision to represent themselves. Magistrate Nuule will now entertain the matter today on the request of Prosecutor Oscar Sinvula for a plea in terms of Section 119 of the Criminal Procedure Act, which is when suspects indicate whether they intend to plead guilty, whether they have a legal representative and also to send the docket to the Prosecutor General for a decision on where the matter will be heard.

Ephedrine is one of the main ingredients used in the making of flu medicines and appetite suppressants and is also a sought-after ingredient in the making of habit forming drugs such as 'tik' - a highly addictive drug popular in the Western Cape, and ecstasy, a drug popular with nightclub patrons.

Twenty-six-year-old Zimbabwean national, Pricilla Masa, and 38-year-old South African citizen Sisa Heather Buthelezi face one count of contravening Section 29 of Act 13 of 2003, which prohibits the importation of medicines without medicatory authorization and one alterative count of dealing in potentially dangerous dependence-producing drugs.

They also face a second alternative charge of possession of potentially dangerous dependence-producing drugs. The two suspects were apprehended on Monday, December 17 at a guesthouse in Windhoek after apparent suspicious behaviour on their part was relayed to the police and the drug unit was dispatched to the scene where a search uncovered 20.1kg of the powder hidden in their luggage.

It is alleged that Masa was in possession of 9.930kg of the drug with an estimated street value of N$5 million, while Buthelezi is said to have had 10.260kg of the substance in her luggage also with a street value of N$5 million.

During the first appearance of the suspects before Magistrate Justine Asino, Prosecutor Taedago Gaweseb objected to bail on the grounds that both Masa and Buthelezi are foreigners and possess no assets in Namibia, plus they have no fixed address in Namibia and the likelihood of absconding was very high.

He further said the investigation is currently ongoing while the total amount involved is N$10 million, making it one of the biggest drug busts in Namibia. He also told Magistrate Asino that it would not be in the interest of justice for the suspects to be granted bail. Both accused remain in custody at the Wanaheda police station holding cells.

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