Namibia: Ephedrine Case Postponed for Pleading
Windhoek — The trial of the Zimbabwean and South African women allegedly caught with 20.1kg of Ephedrine was postponed to September 11, 2013 for pleading and trial.
Yesterday their lawyer Vetuu Uanivi indicated to the court that his clients were ready to plead in order for the trial to proceed. This was after the State informed Uanivi that it was withdrawing the charge of contravening Section 29 of Act 13 of 2003, which prohibits importing medicine without medicatory authorisation mainly to concentrate on the charges of dealing in potentially dangerous dependence producing drugs and possession of potentially dangerous dependence producing drugs.
Uanivi earlier told this reporter he seriously considered having his clients plead guilty on the medicine charge, but that after the State’s turnaround he advised his clients against that course of action. Magistrate Helvi Shilemba informed the accused, 26-year-old Zimbabwean national Pricilla Masa and 38-year-old South African national Sisa Heather Buthelezi that they will now plead to charges that will formally be presented to them during their next court appearance and remanded them in custody.
It has in the meantime emerged that Masa who was pregnant at the time of her arrest has given birth. The baby was with her yesterday in the holding cells and is currently with her at the Wanaheda police station holding cells. It could not be established what the sex of the infant is since both accused were very reluctant to speak to this reporter.
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.
The suspects were apprehended last year December at a guesthouse in Windhoek after apparent suspicious behaviour was relayed to the police and the drug unit was dispatched to the scene where a search yielded 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 valued at 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 their flight risk was very real. He further said the investigation is not yet complete in the trial that involves N$10 million, amounting to one of the biggest drug busts in Namibia.
Both accused remain in custody at the Wanaheda police station holding cells.
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