Three Convicted Over Cocaine in Spare Tyre

MORE than a kilogram of cocaine that police officers found hidden in a spare tyre of a car in Windhoek in early 2010 resulted in the conviction of three men on a charge of dealing in cocaine on Friday.

It was clear that the three men – Angolans Arson Mayawoula and Gastao Ngangu, and Congolese citizen Elvis Lubaki – acted together in transporting the cocaine that the police discovered on 17 January 2010 in a spare tyre of a car driven by Mayawoula, Magistrate Hileni Kavara said when she delivered her verdict in the three men’s trial in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court.

The car that Mayawoula was driving belonged to Lubaki, who was arrested after he and Ngangu had arrived at a flat in Khomasdal in Windhoek, where Mayawoula had taken the police after he had been stopped at a roadblock between Windhoek and Okahandja. The three men were charged with dealing in, alternatively possessing, just more than one kilogram of cocaine, valued at about N$600 000.

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

In a written plea explanation, Ngangu took all of the blame for the cocaine on himself. He claimed that he had agreed with a man named Levis Da Silva Dabo to transport the cocaine from Otjiwarongo to Windhoek. He was promised N$20 000 as payment for the job, Ngangu claimed.

He also claimed that he received the drugs, which had been hidden in a spare tyre, from one Dos Santos at Otjiwarongo.

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

Mayawoula told the court that he was on his way from Zambia, where he had gone to visit his sick mother – something that the magistrate found unbelievable, considering his Angolan nationality – when the car he was travelling in broke down near Rundu. The car belonged to Lubaki, the court was told.

Instead of getting assistance to repair the car at Rundu, Mayawoula phoned Ngangu in Windhoek, and Ngangu and Lubaki then drove to Rundu to assist him. Mayawoula’s decision to get help from Windhoek rather than from Rundu raised suspicions about him, the magistrate found.

The three men drove back to Windhoek in two cars.

On the way Mayawoula and Lubaki switched vehicles – a move that was intended as a decoy, to avoid raising suspicion at the police roadblock between Okahandja and Windhoek, the magistrate commented.

Lubaki also told the court that the car in which the spare tyre containing the cocaine was found had belonged to him and was still registered in his wife’s name, but that he had sold it to the Mr Dabo also mentioned by Ngangu.

Ngangu’s arrest in January 2010 took place three months after he had been found not guilty in the Windhoek Regional Court on a previous charge of dealing in or possession of cocaine.

In that case, Ngangu and another Angolan were charged after more than half a kilogram of cocaine had been found hidden in a toilet in the house that Ngangu was renting in Windhoek West. Ngangu was acquitted after his co-accused admitted that he had smuggled the cocaine from Brazil into Namibia.

The three convicted men have to return to court on 6 May for the hearing of arguments before their sentencing.

Source : The Namibian