Mom’s conviction described as ‘shockingly inappropriate’

Cape Times / Chevon Booysen

A convicted drug dealer who was serving out a 16-year imprisonment term has been immediately released, by order of the Western Cape High Court, as the court found her sentence was “shockingly inappropriate”.

“We can confirm that our client was immediately released from Oudtshoorn prison on Friday and after a long journey home, she was finally reunited with her children on Saturday evening. We are pleased with the progressive decision and outcome in this matter,” said the legal representative for single mother of three children and caregiver, Minkana Makgobo.

Makgobo was convicted and sentenced in the Beaufort West Regional Court to 16 years behind bars for drug dealing after she was found in possession of mandrax tablets in her luggage, when the bus she was travelling from Potchefstroom to Mossel Bay was intercepted by police.

The bus was intercepted just outside Beaufort West on September 24, 2020, where she was found in possession of 7 215 mandrax tablets with a street value of R360 750.

Makgoba, 31, who pleaded guilty to the charges she faced in terms of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act, said she had been on the bus after she accepted a “work opportunity”.

The judgment read: “(Makgoba) had been looking for work and a friend whom she had approached, offered her the opportunity to transport, purportedly for a (health and nutrition) company, one of its packages from Potchefstroom to Mossel Bay for which she would be paid R3 000.

However, just before she boarded the bus, she was made aware by the person who handed the box to her that it contained mandrax tablets.”

Makgobo, a first-time offender from Soshanguve in Pretoria, is an unemployed mother to her children of 12, 8 and 4 years, and the carer of her elderly mother.

In her guilty plea, she said the reason she committed the offence was that “(t)he wolf was at the door, I did not have much of a choice, there was no food on the table and we were struggling, really struggling to survive”.

On appeal against her sentence, high court Judge Judith Cloete found that the sentencing of Makgobo was “shockingly inappropriate” and was a grave miscarriage of justice”.

“(Makgobo’s) legal representative (requested) a pre-sentence report but alarmingly this request was simply ignored by the magistrate who, without any forewarning, took it upon herself to declare that the children would have to be removed immediately from the Makgobo’s care purportedly in terms of the Children’s Act and on the entirely erroneous ground that the appellant had exposed the children to danger by dealing in drugs in her own home.

“We were informed during the appeal that the children have in fact not been removed and are currently still with their maternal grandmother, although they are largely having to fend for themselves.

“Fourth, given her material error of law, the magistrate did not even consider the partial suspension of the sentence she imposed.

Put differently, in all the circumstances of this case there was regrettably a grave miscarriage of justice,” said Cloete.

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