Cops blow Kapdi case

Published Dec 19, 2008


By Leila Samodien

Two years after the arrest of Nazier Kapdi, hailed at the time as a major breakthrough in the war on drugs in the province, he and his four co-accused have walked free because of a police witness bungle.

Acquitting the five on Thursday, Wynberg Regional Court magistrate Fransie Mouton said the police "did not come to court with a clean-hands approach".

In spite of the seriousness of the charges, and the fact that South Africa faces a dire drug scourge, Mouton said people had to be prosecuted within the confines of the constitution.

Kapdi, of Atlantis, and his co-accused Ghulzar Ahmed of Woodstock, Owen Phakade of Atlantis, and couple Ismail Daniels and Fatima Clark of Brooklyn, faced three charges of dealing in tik valued at R2,4 million and another charge of supplying 10kg of ephe-drine - used to manufacture tik.

At the time of his arrest in October 2006, Kapdi was labelled a "tik baron". Former premier Ebrahim Rasool had hailed the arrests, saying Kapdi was suspected to have been involved in the drug trade since 1977.

Kapdi was previously convicted in connection with the murder of one of his henchmen and sentenced to 12 years in prison. He was released in 2002.

Kapdi has also spent the past two years behind bars during the marathon trial that ended dramatically.

Mouton brought the case to an abrupt close when she granted an application by defence attorneys Mahomed Ismail, Laurence Hodes and Max Hodes to discharge the accused on all counts.

The application was granted as a result of a police witness bungle that shattered the State's case.

The defence took swipes at the credibility of several of the State's witnesses, but targeted one in particular - Superintendent Leon du Preez, who infiltrated Kapdi's alleged syndicate as an undercover agent in a bid to investigate his activities.

It was Du Preez's investigation that eventually led to Kapdi's arrest during a drug deal in Edgemead.

But it recently emerged in court that Du Preez had "lied" during his earlier testimony. He withheld evidence regarding the extent of the involvement of a mysterious character, known only as Abdullah, in the drug deal.

Du Preez's knowledge about Adbullah's involvement surfaced unexpectedly during the defence's cross-examination.

Abdullah had reportedly been vital in helping Du Preez infiltrate the syndicate.

Mouton questioned State prosecutor Greg Wolmarans about whether Du Preez had wanted to protect Abdullah and said the policeman should have disclosed evidence about Abdullah, instead of "deliberately withholding" it.

Du Preez could not offer reasons for doing so.

"It means in essence that the police are working hand-in-hand with Abdullah... they did not come to court with a clean-hands approach," said Mouton.

This omission had brought the evidence of Du Preez - the foundation of the State's case - into dispute.

Wolmarans argued that Du Preez's earlier testimony (before word of Abdullah's involvement emerged) should still be admissible as he had gathered a wealth of evidence against the accused, including video tapes of the deal.

But Mouton countered that the contradictions in his testimony were too much of an overriding concern.

"The contradictions emanating from the evidence, especially that of Mr Du Preez, shoots the ship of the State out the water," she said, before discharging the five accused on all charges.

Afterwards the five emerged joyfully from the court, hugging and kissing friends and family.

Kapdi said he would spend Friday with his family and was was looking forward to "relaxing and having a cup of tea" when he arrived home.

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