Rastafarian lawyer in the dock over dagga
A RASTAFARIAN lawyer convicted before on two counts of dagga possession appeared in the Simons Town Magistrate’s Court yesterday.
Gareth Prince, 42, his wife Juanita Adams, 40, and daughter Samantha Adams, 19, were arrested at their Glen Cairn home on Wednesday.
His pro bono lawyer, Naven Pillay, told the court Prince used the substance on a “strictly religious basis”.
In 2002, the Cape Law Society refused to admit Prince as an attorney because he had two criminal convictions for possession of dagga.
At the time, Prince said he would not stop smoking what is regarded by Rastafarians as a “holy herb”.
He later lodged an application with the Constitutional Court for the substance to be legalised.
But this was rejected.
Prince’s battle with the society and the courts to be allowed to continue practising his religion and practise law continued for three years.
Smoking dagga was part of his life and religion and he was being asked to choose between his faith and his profession, he argued.
Yesterday the court heard that after receiving a tip-off, police raided Prince’s home without a search warrant.
“Police seized 81 dagga plants and 500g of dried dagga with an estimated street value of R100 000,” said State prosecutor William Daniels.
Adams and their daughter, Samantha were granted bail of R500 each. The State did not oppose this as the two had no outstanding warrants of arrest, no cases pending and were not a flight risk.
However, Prince received bail of R2 000 because of two previous convictions.
Prince and his wife live in Glen Cairn Heights with their four children. He works as a legal consultant for an NGO.
The case was postponed for further investigation.
Prince, his wife and daughter are due to appear on August 20.
One of Prince’s close friends, Danny Petersen, who was at court yesterday to support his friend, said he thought it unfair that Prince could not practise his career as a Rastafarian.
“I have been a Rastafarian for more than 15 years. Smoking the holy herb is not an essential part of our religion but our use of it is dating back a long way.
“When used in a spiritual capacity, it puts one in a higher state of mind and ultimately, that is the reason we use it,” said Petersen.
Rastafarians – and even people who were not Rastafarian – believed that dagga helped cure medical conditions like asthma, cancer, high blood pressure and glaucoma, he said.
“I do not necessarily agree that dagga should be legalised as it may be abused. But it should be de-criminalised so that the negative connotation to it can be dropped.”