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Drug traffickers attempt to mislead police

NPA is investigating attempt to mislead police through a fake NPA letter instructing that drug dealers in Mthatha should not be arrested.

NPA is investigating attempt to mislead police through a fake NPA letter instructing that drug dealers in Mthatha should not be arrested.

Published Aug 3, 2023


DRUG pushers have taken their attempt to evade the strong arm of the law to the next level by masquerading as National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) officials, and wrote a letter instructing police not to arrest them because there is no space to prosecute them in court.

Now the NPA in the Eastern Cape is investigating an alleged scam that is attempting to give drug traffickers a free ride and the source of a letter circulating on social media instructing police not to act against the crime.

The letter dated July 24, which has an NPA letterhead but bears a stamp from the Department of Justice and a signature purporting to be of a control cluster prosecutor in Mthatha, is two-fold.

The NPA in the province believes the author of the letter might be someone within the Department of Justice who has connection with drug dealers.

The letter’s first paragraph seems to react to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s instruction to the police in Mthatha not to “enrol drug matters due to high volume of the matters on our roll and/or as a mechanism to control the court roll”.

In the second part, it says the control public prosecutor instructed police not to be demoralised by the DPP’s instruction in their fight against drugs, but only people with small amounts of drugs should be arrested.

Neither the DPP nor the control public prosecutor are named in the letter.

“Please colleagues do not be demoralised, effect arrests and submit the docket for screening and guidance.

“As aside, serious drug matters - such as high quantity of drugs eg: 50 & above may be enrolled subject to the discretion of the SPP (senior public prosecutor) and/or control prosecutor,” read the letter.

Eastern Cape NPA spokesperson Luxolo Tyali described the letter, which was aimed at defeating the ends of justice, as fake and is now subject to an NPA investigation. He pointed out that such a letter could not have been officially issued by an NPA senior management while it bears a Department of Justice stamp.

“It is a fake letter that was written by someone else and we don’t know the intention.

“The person (control prosecutor) who is said to have written it does not know anything about it,” said Tyali.

Tyali said it was a concern that someone had instructed the police to not arrest drug dealers.

“To say if a person is caught with a small quantity of drugs should not be arrested is suspicious.

“Even the style it was written is not the way we write letters. We are aware of the letter but it is not an authentic letter, but maybe someone was trying to trick the police,” he said.

He said the control prosecutor who is purported to have written the letter does not have the authority to do so.

“That is the prerogative of the senior public prosecutor, and the control prosecutor would be risking his job by writing such a letter,” said Tyali.

Tyali said suspicions were that someone from the Department of Justice with bad intentions might have fraudulently got hold of a blank page with an NPA letterhead and maybe with the control prosecutor’s signature, and wrote the letter to the police.

“Police alerted us to the letter wanting to know what we (NPA) wanted the police to do.

“The NPA management said we should investigate the letter because we cannot issue a statement instructing police as we don’t instruct police.

“Police bring a suspect to us and we take it from there as the separation of power says police should do their work, investigation and bring the matter to us and then we enroll matters,” said Tyali.

He said such a letter might lead to police not effecting arrest when they catch drug dealers “because they would think that even if we arrest, the matter would not go to court”.

“But police take instruction from their commanders, and when they (police commanders) saw this letter circulating, they immediately called the chief prosecutor who denied knowing this. It was brought to our attention by senior police officers,” he said.

Tyali said Mthatha, like the rest of the country, had a “serious” problem with drugs.

“Taking the decision (not to prosecute) would counter whatever the government is doing to fight drugs, which is why we are investigating the source and the intention of that document because maybe it was meant to confuse and make people think it was okay (to sell drugs).

“Such an instruction would have bearing on the criminal justice system as a whole if you are saying Mthatha must have its own law in South Africa that says in Mthatha, we don’t arrest a person who carrying one drug, we only arrest a person who is carrying five drugs,” he said.

Eastern Cape police spokesperson, Warrant Officer Majola Nkohli, said he could not comment on the letter as he had not seen it.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa took to Twitter to request police leadership to investigate the letter. One of his Twitter followers, mkhontomaxwell@mkhontomax13106, described the letter as “very disturbing”.

Mthatha-based Operation Coca Crime Forum chairperson Shake Mbongo said after seeing the letter, the community-based crime-busting forum, which is independent of the police, immediately approached DPP Advocate Barry Madolo seeking clarity.

“I even confronted the director and he distanced himself from that thing.

“They are investigating the letter because it is misleading and the aim of the letter was to discredit law enforcers to look as if they are conniving with criminals and drug dealers,” said Mbongo.

The letter came while community members were aggrieved with the way police were dealing with crime in Mthatha.

“We are currently doing stop and search on the streets, but now people are starting to come forward with addresses of people who are selling drugs and we will now escalate our operation by visiting homes of drug dealers.

“In a week we, would confiscate about 250 mandrax tablets, we normally destroy them and not make citizen arrests because previously we would hand over the suspects to the police and the next day the same suspect would be roaming the street, and committing the same crime,” said Mbongo.