Sloppy police work lets drug dealer off hook

ROB KNOWLES

 

A MAN who confessed a year ago to being in possession of 92 mandrax tablets, had charges against him dismissed in the Port Alfred Magistrate’s Court last Wednesday due to the state not proving its case.

 

Inconsistencies in the testimony by the arresting officers over the colour of the bag in which the drugs were found, to conflicting descriptions of his home, saw Bongani Poni walk out of a court a free man.

 

Poni was arrested for possession of illegal substances on November 17 last year by two student constables, Mzwebandla (Glen) Lobese and Sinethemba Soyi. They claimed to have seen Poni walking along Wharf Street toward Nemato at around 12.30am.

 

“We stopped him and noticed he was nervous,” said Lobese. “We then asked him to empty his pockets which he did, and pulled out a plastic bag containing tablets.”

 

Lobese told the court he was not sure what the bag contained and so called on the help of Constable Malibongwe Makhlati, a member of the K9 Dog Unit who was on standby.

 

According to Lobese, Makhlati met the two student policemen at the BP Service Station where he recognised Poni as a convicted drug dealer. Makhlati then said he knew where Poni lived and they drove to his place of residence.

 

Lobese and Makhlati agreed there had been no drugs on the premises.

 

In his written statement to the court Poni said he had not been stopped by the police in Wharf Street but had been woken up after midnight by the police.

 

Presiding magistrate Walter la Grange said he had no choice but to dismiss the charges as there were a number of inconsistencies with the evidence presented by the arresting officers.

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