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’Without dagga and my dogs, I wouldn’t have survived’

The 'dagga couple' Julian Stobbs and Myrtle Clarke in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, in 2017. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

The 'dagga couple' Julian Stobbs and Myrtle Clarke in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, in 2017. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 16, 2021


Johannesburg - It’s been more than six months since one half of SA’s “dagga couple” was killed in his bed and now police say the post-mortem results have not yet been finalised.

On July 3, armed house robbers broke into the Jazz farm in Lanseria and shot and killed Julian Stobbs.

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Almost half a year later, his partner, Myrtle Clarke, who was next to him in their bed when he died, said she is filled with anger and has many concerns about the slow progress in the case.

The couple made headlines 10 years ago when they mounted an exhaustive legal battle against the government for the legalisation of cannabis. On the night of Stobbs’ shooting, the robbers made off with two cellphones and two laptops.

Police spokesperson, Brigadier Mathapelo Peters told Saturday Star: “The case of murder and house robbery, where a male victim was shot and killed during the robbery, is still under investigation pending finalisation of the post-mortem as well as the forensic analysis. Post-mortem is conducted by Health and the toxicology report is always the final part that takes the longest. I'm guessing that’s the hold-up.”

Julian Stobbs was shot and killed in 2020. He and his partner took on the government more than 10 years ago to legalise cannabis and the battle rages on.

But this is of little comfort to a grieving Clarke, who has accused the police of sloppy work from the time they arrived at the farm on July 3.

“They didn’t deal with the crime scene properly. People were still around when the police started with the crime scene. They lacked intelligence, made so many spelling mistakes and got so many things wrong, “ she said.

“Julian’s case is at the bottom of a pile along with 50 other murders that happened in South Africa that day. They have only spoken to me twice. It’s been six months, one week and four days, and they are still waiting on ballistics and forensics results,” said Clarke, unable to hold back the tears.

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“We know who the killers are. In 2020, I was able to get a top advocate involved in the case and we were told that the matter was escalated, but we have heard nothing since then. I even had a colonel calling me and asking for the case number. This is a sign of the biggest unholy mess in the SAPS. But let them just gun down one fancy cop, and you have Bheki Cele himself right there supporting the family. What about the rest of us? There will be no justice for Julian,” said an exasperated Clarke.

Myrtle Clarke said without her dogs, cat and her weed, she would have long given up.

But despite her grief, Clarke said they would continue to battle the government in the courts over what she says is a “rubbish Cannabis Bill” currently before Parliament. Clarke says they have spent around R5 million in their legal battles to make sure that “God’s plant remains the property of the people”.

“This case could have cost R100 million, but we have had so many good people coming forward to help and the pro bono help reduced our costs. We have written the laws for the government’s Cannabis Policy, which is practical and constitutionally sound. Government is clueless. All they think is that we just smoke the leaves. What about our Rastafari community? Quoting Julian: ’I am not sick, I don’t want to make socks, I just want to get high’,’’ said Clarke.

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The couple had been growing and using cannabis for the past 35 years and Clarke says she will not stop using, or fighting for everyone to have free access to the “holy herb”.

“This is the absolute worst thing that has happened to me. To have my partner murdered in our bed,” said Clarke, breaking down.

But the former high school teacher vowed that the fight would continue.

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“Cannabis unites all South Africans. Show me another issue that crosses all divides. Now, during lockdown, South Africans are arrested every day for possession of cannabis, which was legalised. The stigma has been removed,” she said.

Despite the fire inside her, Clarke says she has to take it one day at a time.

“I am so grateful for the continued support I receive every day from people all over the world. The day after Julian’s murder, I received 5 000 messages of support. I draw strength from my dogs and cat and if I didn’t smoke weed everyday, I would have given up,” she stated defiantly.

Saturday Star

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