An application for questioning the validity of a police search and seizure warrant used to uncover an illegal gambling operation in George last year has been dismissed. File picture.
An application for questioning the validity of a police search and seizure warrant used to uncover an illegal gambling operation in George last year has been dismissed. File picture.

Judge dismisses case against police over warrant used in gambling den bust

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Sep 3, 2021

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Cape Town - An application for questioning the validity of a police search and seizure warrant used to uncover an illegal gambling operation in George last year has been dismissed in the Western Cape High Court.

The suit had been brought by Vorster Interior Products CC who said in court papers that “the warrant is overboard because it does not prescribe with any exactitude what or who must be searched in terms of the warrant”.

In December last year police in George carried out a clandestine raid on premises owned by Vorster Interior Products as part of an intelligence-driven operation involving the Western Cape Gambling Board.

During the operation computers and monitors were confiscated as investigators believed that they were being used as part of an online gambling operation.

Court documents said the initial covert operation was piloted in the beginning of December 2020 and a member of the gambling board, identified only as Petersen, was used to trap the gambling operators.

Court documents said: “Petersen was provided with a distinctive R100 note, for purposes of conducting his investigation. He approached the security gate to the premises and was afforded entry.

“He saw that there were approximately 50 computer monitors on the premises. There were also approximately 10 people gambling on these computers. He handed the money to an employee of the applicant, the distinct note, and in turn he was given 100 000 credits for the purposes of gambling.”

Dismissing the case, Judge Derek Wille said: “In my view the warrant carefully regulates what must be searched.

“Besides, there is no value in the applicant’s contention that the warrant is silent on the identity of the person to conduct the search. This contention is simply incorrect as the warrant identifies Warrant Officer Francois Steyn, who delivered the warrant.

“In my view, the ultimate test is whether the police official who is authorised to execute the warrant remains in effective and overall control of the search and seizure operation. This ensures that there can be no room for abuse.

“No doubt exists on the facts that the warrant dictated that Officer Steyn was to be in effective and overall control of the search and seizure operation,” said Judge Wille.

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