Yesterday, two accused, a Nigerian national and his South African wife, were handed down hefty sentences for the contravention of the Medicine Control Act, 1965 (Act No 101 of 1965) and money laundering. Collins Vwakaneme, aged 37, and his 32 year old wife, Veliswa, were arrested in Durban in July 2013 and synthetic drugs to the value of approximately R4 million were seized.
The accused have been manufacturing and dealing in synthetic drugs, which are basically designer drugs. In 2013, the detection of their clandestine laboratory where synthetic narcotics substances were being manufactured was a first for this country and it attracted huge attention from the international community. To manufacture these drugs, legal chemicals are combined to replace ecstasy, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and cannabis. This drug is commonly called “legal highs” or “bath salts” on the streets, which has a more potent and perhaps even deadly effect on the user.
These synthetic drugs have created a major challenge for law-enforcement agencies in many countries because the chemicals that are used, are in the Medicine Control Act, 1965 (Act No 101 of 1965). For this reason, our courts were compelled to hand down lighter sentences. However, since the amendment of the Drug Act, this is the first time that a sentence of this nature has been handed down on the accused in South African courts.
The duo were tried in the Durban Regional Court and today, they were both sentenced to 10 years each for contravening the Medicine Control Act, 1965 (Act No 101 of 1965) and 15 years each for money laundering. The sentences will run concurrently, meaning that they will serve 15 years in prison. The National Commissioner, General Riah Phiyega, welcomed the sentence passed on the couple and praised the detectives for a job well done.
“This is indeed a welcomed precedent set by our courts and this will help our efforts to combat drug trafficking a great deal,” said General Phiyega.
“We are proud of our team’s efforts in ensuring a successful prosecution in this matter. From now on, dealers in synthetic drugs will feel the full might of the law,” added General Phiyega.
Source : South African Government