Evidence in drug case mishandled

It recently emerged that a man accused of dealing in prohibited, dependence producing drugs has demanded that the confiscated drugs be re-tested.

Daniel Kabenda demanded that the court allow him to send the drugs to a private laboratory which he would pay for to prove that the substance he was found with is actually drugs.

Kabenda was arrested on 30 April 2013 after he was found in possession of cocaine weighing in at 2,520 kg. He was subsequently charged with one count of dealing in a dependence producing drug and one count of possession of an illegal substance, with the second count being alternative to the first.

The cocaine allegedly found in Kabenda’s possession was valued at N$260 000 when he was arrested at a house where he was renting a room in 2013. The 36 year old man said that he wanted the substance found in his possession to be re-tested because he was not sure that it is actually cocaine.

When asked by the court if he was willing to pay for the substance to be re-tested at a different lab than that used by the police he said that he would.

This demand came after the former Chief Inspector of Namibian Police Drug Law Enforcement Unit was arrested for allegedly stealing evidence from the police safe.

A newspaper clipping from a local daily newspaper recounting Basson’s arrest was attached to court documents in Kabenda’s case.

The items Basson allegedly stole are cocaine valued at N$1m, two video cameras valued at N$9 000 and cash of N$21 650. He was arrested on January 23 last year, however the case was provisionally withdrawn by Magistrate Justine Asino after she refused to grant the state another remand in the case which had been dragging on.

At the time it was reported that Asino said that the State had not shown that it would suffer prejudice if a postponement was not granted. Court documents did not specify why Basson’s withdrawn case was relevant to that of Kabenda’s.

The investigation officer in the case said that when they confiscated the alleged drugs, they took them to the forensic lab, after which the forensic scientist who tested the drugs said that it was indeed cocaine he had found in bullet like containers taken from the accused.

Kabenda has been in police custody since his arrest because he is an Angola national with a passport and could be a flight risk. However the suspect argued that he was not a flight risk because he had the opportunity to flea last year when there was chaos at the station but he did not.

At the time of the chaotic event, inmates were released from the police cells and a police officer stabbed in the commotion. Kabenda said that while other inmates used the opportunity to escape, he opted to help the wounded police officer and accompanied him to the hospital. His bail application was still denied.

Apart from the cocaine, it is alleged that Kabenda was also found in possession of a laptop which police believe could have been traded in for cocaine. The investigating police officer said that they found pictures of white people on the laptop which led to the conclusion; however the accused said that he had bought the laptop on the street.

He was also found with N$21650 in cash. The case was postponed to 18 September for the continuation of the trial.