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Durban - She may be a free woman, but Joyce Komane, accused of being a kingpin of a Pietermaritzburg drug syndicate, has been stripped of her assets, including five properties and a car.
Komane was convicted of racketeering and drug dealing, but these were overturned on appeal in October 2010. However, the state persisted in an application for the forfeiture of her assets which, it alleged, were the proceeds of her drug dealing between 1996 and 2005.
And, after hearing evidence for 11 days, Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Rishi Seegobin handed down judgment on Wednesday, ruling that they were indeed.
The application was first brought in November 2005 against Komane, her mother Gladys Makhaye and another relative, Sikhumbuzo Mbatha, the latter two being the registered owners of some of the properties “in order to falsely create the impression that they do not belong to her”.
According to evidence before the judge, Komane had been previously charged and convicted on 17 occasions for shoplifting and, after serving four years in jail, started drug dealing on a small scale in the late 1980s. She subsequently established herself as the main supplier and distributor of mandrax tablets and cocaine.
The state alleged this was her only source of income.
But she denied this, claiming she owned a boutique and a coffee shop and she had also received R100 000 for her half share in a garage she owned with her now dead husband which had been sold.
In considering the evidence before him, the judge concluded that “on a preponderance of probabilities”, Komane had been involved in drug dealing.
With regards to her financial situation, she had not placed any cogent evidence to rebut the allegations that she had derived her income through drug dealing.
“She says she kept books for her businesses but then did not produce these,” he said.
He said she had made “brave attempts” to claim that the boutique made R10 000 to R15 000 a week, but accountant Akbar Ally, who testified for the state, said the boutique was trading at a loss.
Ally’s analysis “that the coffee shop had sustained continuous and substantial losses over the years” also had to be accepted.
The judge noted that Komane had also been unable to produce a single document relating to the alleged sale of the garage.
He described Komane as a “very confident, intelligent witness with an uncanny ability to wriggle herself out of uncomfortable situations” and a “wily witness with an extremely domineering and manipulative personality”.
But she had clearly misconstrued the onus on her in this matter, believing if she sat back and did nothing, the State would not be able to prove a case against them, he said. He concluded that the state was entitled to its forfeiture order.
The properties will now be sold at public auction and the proceeds deposited in the criminal asset recovery account.