Spare Tyre Drug Smugglers Jailed

THREE men convicted of smuggling more than a kilogram of cocaine, which the police discovered in the spare tyre of a car in early 2010, were sentenced to three years’ imprisonment each at the end of their trial yesterday.

Cocaine is a substance that is considered as dangerous and even a first-time offender found guilty of an offence involving the drug can be sent to prison without the option of paying a fine, Magistrate Hileni Kavara told the three men during their sentencing in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court.

Sentencing someone to pay a fine in a case like that of Angolans Arson Mayawoula and Gastao Ngangu and Congolese citizen Elvis Lubaki, who three and a half weeks ago were found guilty of dealing in 1 015 grams of cocaine, would send out a wrong message about the seriousness of such a crime, the magistrate indicated. She said she was taking into account that the three men have spent more than four years in custody awaiting the end of their trial and that they were first-time offenders – but also the fact that offences involving drugs like cocaine were not only serious but have become prevalent in Namibia.

Magistrate Kavara sentenced Ngangu, Mayawoula and Lubaki to seven years’ imprisonment each. Four years of their sentences were suspended on condition that they are not again convicted of possessing or dealing in cocaine.

The three men were arrested after members of the Namibian Police discovered cocaine with an estimated value of about N$600 000 hidden in the spare tyre of a car in Windhoek on 17 January 2010.

The car belonged to Lubaki, but had earlier been driven by Mayawoula.

Ngangu offered a guilty plea on the main charge of dealing in cocaine at the start of their trial in July last year, but the prosecution did not accept the basis of his plea.

He claimed in a plea explanation that he had agreed to transport the cocaine from Otjiwarongo to Windhoek on behalf of someone who had promised to pay him N$20 000 to carry out the task.

Ngangu also claimed that he had picked up the drugs while he, Lubaki and Mayawoula were on their way from Rundu back to Windhoek.

Ngangu and Lubaki had travelled from Windhoek to Rundu to assist Mayawoula, who had a mechanical breakdown while travelling to Windhoek in a car belonging to Lubaki, the court heard.

Mayawoula’s decision to get help from Windhoek rather than from Rundu raised suspicions about him, the magistrate found in the judgement in which she convicted the three accused. She also found that Mayawoula and Lubaki switched vehicles on the way back to Windhoek in an attempt to avoid raising suspicion at the police roadblock between Okahandja and Windhoek.

Police officers were nevertheless suspicious about Mayawoula and followed him to a flat in Khomasdal, where Lubaki and Ngangu later arrived in a car in which the spare tyre with the cocaine hidden inside was found.

Defence lawyer Orben Sibeya represented the three accused. Eric Naikaku prosecuted.

Source : The Namibian