Windhoek High Court Judge Orben Sibeya yesterday dismissed an application by mega haul drug dealing accused Grant Noble (36) and Dinath Azhar (62) for discharge in terms of section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act.
After the State closed its case in November last year, their lawyer Sisa Namandje applied for a discharge claiming that the State’s case is so weak it cannot stand on its own unless his clients give self-incriminating evidence during their testimony in defence or cross-examination by the State.
Judge Sibeya, however, found that the evidence produced by the State does constitute prima facie evidence, which requires answers from the accused persons.
He said evidence not in dispute is that Noble is the sole owner of the entity used to import the copy paper and that Azhar financed his operations.
He further said documentation show 480 boxes of copy paper were imported, but that only 460 contained copy paper while the other 20 contained what was determined as 87-89% cocaine powder.
According to the judge, he was satisfied that the chain of custody was not broken as there was a clear paper trail from when the suspected cocaine was brought to the National Police Forensic Institute of Namibia up to when it was tested. Although there were some mishaps with the testing as Namandje claimed, the judge said, those were cleared up by Dr Paul Ludik.
The judge also had questions about the exact role Azhar played in the company that imported the consignment from Brazil.
“What interest, in what capacity was accused two in the company? What was his position? The judge asked.”
He was not a member of the company at the material time and the court is in the darkness as to his relationship with the company, the judge stressed.
According to the judge, while there is no evidence that Azhar was either a member, an employee or a servant of the company, there is evidence that he paid $137 000 for storage space for the company which remained locked for all that time. These are questions that need answers, the judge said, before he dismissed the application on the charges of dealing in drugs and money laundering.
With regard to the alternative charge of possession of dependence producing substances, he said that the charge is not sustainable as the accused were never in possession of the contraband.
Noble and Azhar are charged with one count of dealing in cocaine. They are also charged with one count of money laundering.
Noble and Azhar were arrested on 15 June 2018 after a container they imported was found loaded with 412kg of cocaine worth an estimated N$206 million.
The cocaine was hidden between copy paper boxes the two ordered from Brazil via Cape Town through the port of Walvis Bay.
Azhar has in the meantime been released on bail of N$10 000 by Judge Sibeya.
The container was kept under surveillance by port security, police and customs and excise after they received an international tip-off about the large consignment of cocaine destined for Walvis Bay.
According to the indictment, the two accused were for all intents and purposes business associates based in Walvis Bay.
Noble was the sole owner of Zeeki Trading cc and Azhar his financier, it is alleged. It is further stated in the indictment that during February 2018, Azhar made an outward payment of US$17 895.60 from Zeeki Trading to an entity called Safety Com. Importadora E Exportadora Eireli EPP in Santos, Brazil under the pretext of buying A4 printing paper for resale in Namibia.