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Marijuana grower gets five years

LEBOGANG MOSIKARE
FRANCISTOWN: A 53-year-old man of Tshethai cattlepost near Tonota, Siya Phate was on Tuesday sentenced to five years in jail for dealing with marijuana.

Phate, who is also a traditional doctor, was arrested by the police on May 31, 2017 following a tip-off.

Admitting the summary of facts before magistrate Amantle Lungisani, Phate said that it was indeed true that he cultivated dagga - a habit forming drug - at his field in Tshethai.

Phate admitted that independent witnesses were present at his field after the police raided him.

“I agree that I was taking good care of the marijuana plants that the police found in my field. I also admit that I didn’t have a permit authorising me to deal in dagga.  The police warned and cautioned me about the possible offence I may have committed after they raided my field,” Phate ssai with a crackling voice.

After the facts were read to the accused, Lungisani said that she was satisfied that Phate’s admissions were unequivocal then found him guilty as charged.

In his plea in mitigation before he was sentenced, Phate asked the court for

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forgiveness saying that he has already admitted the offence.  

When passing sentence, Lungisani said she took into consideration what the accused said in mitigation. 

“The accused is a first offender, but he has committed a very serious offence. He also pleaded guilty to the charge and has not wasted the court’s valuable time.  I also take into consideration his other life circumstances thereof and sentence him to five years in jail,” a stern-faced Lungisani said.

Phate, who was accompanied by a few family members, wept in court after the magistrate delivered his verdict before he was whisked off to jail where he will spend time.

The strong smell of the dagga that was stored in 57 brown bags as evidence permeated the courtroom.

The magistrate made an order that the marijuana should be forfeited to the state for destruction before she advised Phate to appeal both his conviction and sentence at the High Court in 14 days if he so wished.



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