WALVIS BAY – The bail hearing of the two men accused of smuggling N$206 million worth of cocaine through the port of Walvis Bay took a surprise turn on Wednesday when the defence lawyers pointed out that much of the evidence may eventually not be admissible when the case goes to trial.
According to the defence counsels for two accused men, Grant Noble and Dinath Azhar, the police did not have search warrants to search the containers where the cocaine was found.
Sisa Namandje is appearing for Azhar while Jan Wessels is representing Noble. Namandje told the court that there are many discrepancies in the manner in which the case was handled, which renders the State’s case weak, and some of the evidence gathered might not be admissible during trial.
Azhar and Noble, accused of smuggling cocaine, were arrested on June 15 at Walvis Bay harbour after 412 kilogrammes of cocaine were found between A4 copy paper they had ordered from Brazil.
Namandje argued that the search of the container was done without a warrant as it was obtained only after the search. He also argued that any evidence found during the search of the container cannot be used in court or at trial. “Hence assuming that my client was involved in the smuggling of drugs is useless,” Namandje said.
He also argued that the confiscation of smartphones from Azhar and Noble is highly questionable because no search warrant was issued for seizing the phones and searching the content on the phones. During searching the container and the arrest, police confiscated a Blackberry and an LG phone from Azhar, and an iPhone from Noble. The phones have been sent outside the country for analysis.
Looking to pick further holes in the State’s case, Namandje put it to Detective Inspector Charles Goagoseb, under pressure at times during cross-examination, that the police knew what they were looking for which only confirms that the container was already opened before the search warrant was obtained.
“How else did the magistrate know to write cocaine powder on the search warrant? In fact, there was no search warrant, hence none of the suspects were given one at the time of their arrest,” he said.
Goagoseb testified that he grabbed the Blackberry from Azhar as he was busy on the phone and they feared that he might be busy deleting evidence.
Goagoseb explained that he gave the phone to another police officer to remove the battery as it seemed that files on the phone were being automatically deleted.
“Both phones were sent for analysis but the Blackberry will now be sent to another company outside Namibia as the phone has a cryptic software programme and cannot be accessed,” said Goagoseb.
Goagoseb told the court that Noble refused to give his passcode and his phone had to be sent to Israel for analysis.
Wessels said that Noble refused to reveal his password because he had naked pictures of women on his phone and wanted to protect them.
Wessels however yesterday told the court that his client was willing to provide the passcode at this stage if the identities of the ladies are not compromised.
Goagoseb responded that arrangements have already been made to send the phone outside the country and that Noble had previously refused to give the password when he was approached.
The bail hearing was heard by Magistrate Ise Rheent and was postponed to 3 September for continuation of proceedings.