S v MANDLOZI 2015 (2) SACR 258 (FB)

Drug offences — Methamphetamine — Dealing in -in contravention of s 5(b) of Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act 140 of 1992 — Dealing in 25,8 kg of — Appellant acting as courier delivering drugs from one province to another — Dangers of methamphetamine troubling factor and quantity of involved huge — Sentence of 18 years’ imprisonment should be sparingly reserved for drug manufacturers and suppliers — Sentence of 18 years’ imprisonment set aside on appeal and replaced with 18 years’ imprisonment of which four years suspended.

The appellant, a 46-year-old woman, was convicted in a magistrates’ court of dealing in 25,8 kg of methamphetamine in contravention of s 5(b)of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act 140 of 1992. The evidence revealed that H she had agreed to courier the drugs from Johannesburg to Cape Town on a bus. Her conduct immediately prior to her arrest revealed that she was not just a naive person who had been taken advantage of by a drug lord but that she was in fact a cunning mule. She appealed against her sentence of 18 years’ imprisonment.
Held, that the negative and devastating repercussions of drugs on society in I general and addicts in particular were so notorious that no reasonable person could claim to be ignorant of them. The appellant could not be heard to complain that she was ignorant of such devastating effects of the drugs she was carrying and she had to be held to have taken such inherent danger into the bargain when she agreed to traffic a consignment of a large quantity of drugs from Gauteng to the Western Cape.
Held, further, that what was very troubling about ‘tik’ (methamphetamine) was the ease with which it could be manufactured and that the drug had become so easily available that it had been referred to as the drug of choice.
Held, further, that the quantity of the drug involved was indeed huge, but at the same time, huge as it was, exceedingly large consignments of drugs such as cannabis transported by cargo carriers were imaginable. Very severe sentences, such as the one imposed on the appellant, should generally and sparingly be reserved for drug manufacturers, suppliers and repeat offenders. In the present case the court was not grappling with a worst case scenario of a courier.
Held, further, that the sentence of 18 years’ imprisonment was, in all the circumstances, disturbingly severe and the court a quo had excessively stressed the gravity of the crime, together with the harm to society, at the expense of the profile of the appellant. As a result of the imbalance, the court had inappropriately imposed a sentence which tended to be more retributive than deterrent in effect. Held, that an appropriate sentence in the circumstances would be one of 18 years’ imprisonment of which four years were suspended for five years.