A 51-year-old man who faces charges of dealing in drugs and the manufacturing and supply of cannabis has successfully appealed to have his bail refusal set aside. File picture: Robert F. Bukaty/AP
Cape Town - A 51-year-old man who faces charges of dealing in drugs and the manufacturing and supply of cannabis, as well as the prospect of being extradited to the United Kingdom, has successfully appealed to have his bail refusal set aside in the Western Cape High Court.

Acting Judge AJ Hack on Monday ordered that Jason Smith be released on R100 000 bail with strict conditions. The judge said the State had failed to prove that the accused was a flight risk and would skip the country once out on bail.

Smith has been incarcerated since his arrest in March, following a raid by Strand police and the Hawks on a large cannabis production facility where they uncovered a massive hydroponic cannabis laboratory.

In denying bail the Somerset West Magistrate's Court said that Smith was a flight risk and made mention of his pending extradition to the UK where he is sought on similar charges. The offence in England dates back to 2008. On March 13, 2008 Smith was interviewed by police, granted bail and told to later hand himself over to UK police. 

However, he failed to appear and a warrant of arrest was issued by the Eden Magistrate’s Court in the UK on January 30, 2008. He was eventually arrested in 2015 in South Africa on an Interpol warrant of arrest and released on R300 000 bail.

Ruben Liddell appearing for Smith argued that the State indicated that the case against his client would in all likelihood only commence in June 2020. He added that his client is facing cannabis related charges in which case he might get a hefty fine or that the matter might be withdrawn once the Constitutional Court amends the Act regulating the cultivation of cannabis.

State prosecutor Helen Booysen told the court that the accused allegedly cultivated cannabis from 2014 with an estimated value of R40 million. Booysen also told the court that the charge of money laundering will be added to the charge sheets once the financial investigation has been completed. 

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