Boat owner joins seven remanded over drugs charges-• Sea cucumbers sold for R180,000


The nine accused – including a newly charged employee of the vessel’s owner who is believed to be a mechanic – appeared before Supreme Court judge Mohan Burhan where 14 charges have been leveled against them.

The seven applied for bail but Mr Burhan denied them bail saying the charges before them are very serious and attract mandatory life in jail sentences and there is a risk of them absconding.

Some defence lawyers said some of the accused are fishermen who merely got a ride on the boat and should be released on bail but the judge said it was too early for him to decide whether or not they were what their lawyers claimed them to be.
He remanded the nine for two weeks and they will appear again in court on March 15.

The prosecution in this case is being led by principal state counsel David Esparon and state counsel Kumar Hemanth, who told Nation the owner and the mechanic were only charged on Monday and their defence counsels will need time to prepare their defence.

The 1,562 sea cucumbers found on the vessel were sold through the normal procedures and fetched a bit more than the earlier estimated R180,000, the SFA’s chief executive Finley Racombo told Nation yesterday.

“We have put the money in a special account and the court will decide what should be done with it once the case is over,” said Mr Racombo, adding the police took pictures of the cucumbers which were bought by one of the three companies that process them locally.

The authority suspended the vessel’s fishing license and the boat is no longer eligible to claim fuel concession under the fuel scheme.

The seven were caught by the National Drugs Enforcement Agency agents on December 11, 2012.