Cape Town - Sea Point curio shop owner Mark Goldberg is a free man after a full bench of the Western Cape High Court set aside his conviction and seven-year prison term for the illegal possession and sale of ivory.
Judges Owen Rogers, Patricia Goliath and Andre le Grange set aside Cape Town Regional Court magistrate Wilma van der Merwe’s July 2011 decision to convict Goldberg of five counts under the Nature and Environmental Conservation Ordinance.
The seven-year prison sentence, with two years conditionally suspended for five years, imposed in April last year, was also set aside.
In July 2011, Van der Merwe rejected Goldberg’s defence that he was only the manager of the Gift House Curio Shop in Sea Point, which was owned by his mother, Sonja Marcus. When Marcus died, Goldberg inherited the business.
CapeNature officials raided the curio shop in 2009 and found 43 905 ivory items.
In handing down sentence, Van der Merwe said Goldberg was convicted of an “exceptionally serious crime”.
But Goldberg’s lawyer, advocate Reuben Liddell, brought an application for leave to appeal, citing the sentence as “excessive”.
In the high court judgment, the judges said the perpetrator of the offence, if one was committed, was Goldberg’s mother.
Judge Rogers said he he felt that the State had not proved beyond reasonable doubt that Goldberg had “assisted his mother in her possession of the ivory, knowing that her possession was unlawful because she did not have statements of origin”.
Goldberg’s R50 000 bail was returned to him.