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Portia Mlilo
FREED: Thapelo Chibane and his lawyer

After serving two years imprisonment for dagga possession, suspected drug dealer Thapelo Chibane is now a free man.

Chibane was allegedly found in possession of dagga together with three others on the 16th August 2015 at Valhoek village.

He was convicted and fined P5000 or two years imprisonment in default of payment. The court further indicated that the term of imprisonment if in default of payment will run consecutively.

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Chibane’s attorney Masaka filed an appeal indicating that the magistrate was too harsh in both conviction and sentencing. He also said his client was to be given a deadline for the payment of the fine.

Masaka argued that the court did not take into account all the mitigating factors and exceptional extenuating circumstances that were proffered before sentencing.

“The court erred in convicting my client even though his explanation of how he came into possession of the drugs was reasonably probable. The sentence is too harsh and inconsiderate of the circumstances before the court,” he said

In their response, prosecution admitted that there were some inconsistencies on where exactly the plastic sachets were retrieved from, and the sitting arrangements of the accused person in the motor vehicle.

State further indicated that the first state witness when testifying, said the bag containing three sachets of the green substance was retrieved from the front of the car while the other witness said they searched the car and at the back seat they found three sachets containing a green substance.

“The judgement indicated that the sachets were retrieved underneath the front passenger seat which was occupied by Chibane. There are serious inconsistencies in the prosecution evidence. Most of the state witnesses’ evidence differ materially with regard to the location where the dagga was retrieved. There is also a question of chain of custody, the court failed to address it despite the fact that the sachets which contained the green substance were now empty in court,” said prosecution

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Prosecution went on further to concur with defence attorney that the magistrate misdirected herself by imposing consecutive sentences and submitted that the appropriate sentence was P5000 and in default of payment 2 years imprisonment. State further submitted that the conviction is not safe and should be quashed and sentence set aside.

Justice Modiri Letsididi agreed with the appellant that the conviction was an error, quash charges and ordered that Chibane be released from jail.

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