War on drugs: 13 dragged to court, but no real kingpins

08Feb 2017
Crispin Gerald
The Guardian
War on drugs: 13 dragged to court, but no real kingpins
  • Eight ordered to register bonds worth 10m/- each, five others hit for 20m/- each, in order to secure their release on probation

THE Kisutu resident magistrate’s court yesterday ordered 13 people including local entertainment celebrities, accused of drug-related offences, to execute bonds worth a total of 180 million/- to secure their release on probation.

Tanzanian film and music artistes (front row) charged with narcotics-related offences seated in a courtroom at Dar es Salaam’s Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court yesterday awaiting word on their fate. They were ordered to execute bonds worth 30m/- each to secure their release on probation.

Eight of the accused were told by presiding resident magistrate Huruma Shaidi to register bonds worth 10m/- each without surety, while in a separate case led by magistrate Cyprian Mkena, five other accused were ordered to produce bonds worth 20m/- each, under the condition of one surety (each).

The accused were arraigned in court yesterday after being held in police custody for several days on the orders of Dar es Salaam regional commissioner Paul Makonda.

RC Makonda last week named several prominent local music and movie figures, along with at least a dozen senior police officers, and linked them to alleged involvement in illicit drug-dealing as part of a fresh, apparently all-encompassing crackdown on the city’s narcotics trade.
But there was still no word on the real kingpins behind the apparently booming trade.

Among the eight accused who were yesterday ordered to execute 10m/- bonds each without surety was leading Bongo Flava music artiste Khalid Salum, alias TID. Others were Hamidu Chambuso (Dogo Hamidu), Rajabu Salum, Romeo George, Cedou Madugo, Johance Johannes, Rachel Josephat and Anna Patric Kimario.

The prosecution had submitted a request from the head of the Task Force Unit Dar es Salaam Zone, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Dennis Mujumba, for the accused to be kept under probation for at least three years under section 73 (e) of the Criminal Procedures Act.

According to ASP Mujumba’s submission, the police had evidence in the form of ‘information’ that the accused were using drugs and could destroy the entire society if no action is taken against them.

The defence team led by advocate Albert Msando challenged what he described as ASP Mujumba’s ‘blanket’ statement of evidence, saying it didn’t specify when the ‘information’ was obtained and from where.

Msando also pointed out that the prosecution affidavit did not specify who among the accused was engaged in which type of drug use, and furthermore challenged the cited section of the law as being irrelevant to the case at hand because it talks about ‘breach of peace’, not drug use.

“How can someone breach the peace by using drugs?... it is obvious that the section is not clear in relation to drug-related cases,” said the lead defence counsel.

Magistrate Shaidi chose to reduce the probation period from three years to one year, and also ordered the prosecution to seek out further proof of the accused’s engagement in drug use.

In the other related case, however, magistrate Mkena accepted the prosecution’s request that the five accused should not only execute bonds for 20m/- each (double that of the first group), but also produce at least one surety each and be under probation for three years instead of one.

The five are Ahmed Hashi (Petitman), Said Linnah, Nassoro Nassoro, Bakar Khelef, and Lulu Chelangwe (Lulu). The tougher court ruling on them came after the defence side had failed to challenge the prosecution’s request.

Apart from being kept under probation for three years, they will also have to report to a local police station twice a month, while the court ordered the police to keep them under tight surveillance during their probation period, whereby if they don’t change their behaviour, they will be brought back to court.

There was no immediate word on the fate of the likes of former Miss Tanzania pageant winner and Bongo movie actress Wema Sepetu and upcoming Bongo Flava songstress Vanessa Mdee, who were also last week summoned by RC Makonda to voluntarily report to the Central Police Station for further questioning on their alleged links to the narcotics trade.

The Makonda-led crackdown on narcotics dealing in Dar es Salaam has been openly supported by President John Magufuli himself, who on Monday ordered security organs and law enforcers to ensure no suspects are spared on the basis of public status or popularity.

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