Gaborone High Court Judge, Key Dingake has freed South African National Dewald Steyn De Beer, who had been convicted for possession of illegal drug, Ephedrine.
When overturning the decision of the magistrate court, Justice Dingake acknowledged that even though the magistrate had the discretion to impose that kind of sentence, it was important for the sentence not to be too harsh and excessive.
”In this case, it appears to me that the sentence imposed, being the maximum was too harsh, especially taking into account that the drugs in question were forfeited to the state. The Court acquo had a discretion to impose a fine or imprisonment alone and not imposing both,” said Dingake.
The convict was initially sentenced to two years in prison, with one year wholly suspended on condition that he does not commit any offence within the next three years. He was also fined P10, 000 and ordered to forfeit the drugs to the state. Through his lawyer, Friday Leburu, the South African had argued that the sentencing imposed was too excessive and inappropriate.
In his Judgement, Judge Dingake agreed with the defence lawyer, saying the sentence imposed, being the maximum was too harsh especially taking into account that the drugs in question were forfeited to the state.
”The court acquo had discretion to impose a fine or imprisonment alone. In my view imposing them both was too excessive, ”said Dingake.
But the judge dismissed the defence submissions that the drugs forfeited to the state must be returned to the accused.
”I do not agree that the drugs (ephedrine) forfeited to the state must be returned to the accused as submitted by the defence lawyer, ”said Dingake.
The 23-year-old male was convicted for a single count of importing drugs without the Director of Health Service’s approval in 2014. The drug convict was arrested in Gaborone on October 2014, after he allegedly travelled from India and connected a flight in Nairobi, before his drugs were intercepted by the police in a suitcase compartment at Sir Seretse Khama Air Port in Gaborone.