Headed home after cocaine tragedy

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nm cocaine 2

REUTERS

KZN woman Kathryne Fuller, an assistant producer of the television show The Amazing Race, is helped by a nurse as she arrives at a court in Kampala, Uganda. Picture: Reuters

After two weeks of nervous worry, the prayers of a Durban father have been answered.

Stuart Fuller has been by the side of his daughter Kathryne, 29, since she suffered partial paralysis after taking cocaine while working as a film production assistant in Kampala, Uganda.

They are expected to return to SA on Saturday with the body of television producer Jeff Rice, who died after he and Kathryne took contaminated cocaine in a hotel room.

Kathryne pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine on Thursday, paid her 1 million shilling fine (R3 000) and was freed.

Private investigator Brad Nathanson, speaking from Kampala yesterday, said: “It’s thanks to God, to perseverance and a fantastic legal team that we’re all coming home.”

Nathanson initially travelled to Kampala at the request of Rice’s widow, Sally Blackman, to help bring her husband’s body back to Durban, but then also assisted the Fullers.

nm cocaine 3

Assistant producer Katheryne Fuller of the U.S. television show "The Amazing Race" is assisted by Brad Nathanson (L), a private South African investigator, and her father Steward Fuller (R), as she departs the courthouse after pleading guilty of cocaine usage in the Ugandan capital of Kampala, March 1, 2012. "The Amazing Race" television producer Jeff Rice of the U.S. was found dead in Uganda last month after taking contaminated cocaine, a private investigator said. Rice's assistant Fuller was also found unconscious at the same time as Rice's body was discovered on February 18 at the Serena hotel in Kampala. REUTERS/Edward Echwalu (UGANDA - Tags: CRIME LAW ENTERTAINMENT DRUGS SOCIETY MEDIA)

REUTERS

He said that a relieved Fuller had picked him up off the ground and swung him around outside the courtroom.

 

Initial media reports had suggested that the pair were poisoned, but the Ugandan police ruled that there had been no foul play.

 

Nathanson said that Kathryne’s return had been delayed while she waited to be charged, and red tape relating to Rice’s American citizenship had prevented his body from being released sooner.

Rice was born in the US, but lived in Durban.

Fuller has been desperate to get his daughter back to Durban to have the paralysis on her right side treated.

He previously told The Mercury that although staff at the day clinic had tried their best, they did not have the facilities which could be provided here.

Fuller has also spoken of the emotional and financial strain his family has had to endure, but Nathanson said this burden had been greatly relieved by anonymous Samaritans.

He said these Samaritans had, for the most part, settled Kathryne’s hospital bill, and that someone had upgraded their plane tickets home to first class.

Kathryne’s lawyer, Paul Rutisya, confirmed that she had chosen to pay the fine rather than face six months’ imprisonment.

Kathryne said she was being held unlawfully in Uganda since she had not been charged with a crime within the legal time limit, which is 48 hours, according to Nathanson.

“I feel much better knowing that I’m free to go,” she said.

“I have to go to South Africa for them to figure out what is wrong, for them to do an MRI (scan) to figure out what exactly is not working and why it’s not working.”

Last night Blackman said that her husband’s body being released was a “huge relief” for her. A memorial service would be held for the father of two on Monday.

A 23-year-old Ugandan man, Moses Kalanzi, is in police custody, accused of supplying the pair with cocaine. Kalanzi has been charged with manslaughter and a negligent act causing death, as well as two drug-related offences. He pleaded not guilty to the charges. - The Mercury


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