Judge sets drug accused free over botched warrant

THERE were gasps from the public gallery at the Port Elizabeth High Court yesterday when Livingstone Makasholo – accused of various crimes including dealing in drugs, corruption and money laundering – was found not guilty on all charges.

A visibly relieved Makasholo refused to comment and left court in a hurry after Acting Judge Ntombizodwa Seti-Nduna delivered her ruling.

Makasholo’s defence advocate, Terry Price, said: “We are delighted with the decision. We are ecstatic.”

Makasholo, 56, made headlines in 2010 when he was arrested on charges of dealing in drugs after police apprehended him visiting a house in Redhouse suspected to be a drug storage facility.

One charge related to his alleged attempt to pay two policemen, Warrant Officer Neil Killian and Captain Cornelius Pettit, R1-million each not to arrest him.

He allegedly also later bribed another policeman to steal his police docket and another charge of corruption was added.

Police confiscated drugs, cars and cash worth more than R12-million from his Bluewater Bay mansion during his arrest on April 20 2010.

Hundreds of mandrax tablets were found in metal drums in the garage of the Redhouse house where Makasholo was arrested and more mandrax tablets were found at Makasholo’s mansion.

Makasholo also made headlines during his marathon trial after proceedings were delayed several times due to his ill health.

Seti-Nduna yesterday went back on the ruling she delivered in an earlier trial within a trial to determine the admissability of evidence obtained by police officers during the arrest.

“It is in the interest of justice that I reconsider my earlier ruling [to admit the evidence],” she said.

Seti-Nduna said the evidence was obtained unconstitutionally without a proper search warrant and that the arresting officers had not properly explained his rights to Makasholo because if they had, he would have understood that he had a right to legal representation.

There was no real urgency and the arresting officers could have dispatched a team to watch the house while a proper warrant was obtained, Seti-Nduna said.

The warrant obtained “did not identify what was to be searched, the person to be searched and it did not specify the offence”. Seti-Nduna said the defence had argued that the warrant should be declared invalid, making the trial unfair. – Lee-Anne Butler

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