Dagga Party leader stirs the pot
After a recent incident in Wilderness where a family was severely traumatised by alleged police brutality, Jeremy Acton, the leader of the Dagga Party, says police were wrong to break into a home before showing a warrant.
On 11 October nine armed policemen allegedly burst into the rental home of Erik Vorster and his wife, Jen Stiehler, in Langvlei Laan, Wilderness. According to Stiehler the incident occurred at approximately 17:00 with police looking for tik, mandrax, illegal firearms and cannabis.
“Armed policemen forced their way into our home without identifying themselves or initially producing a proper warrant,” she said. They would later realise that the address and the name on the warrant were both incorrect. “They eventually gave me the warrant to read. The address on the warrant was wrong. So was my husband’s name. He is Erik Vorster, not Eric Mueller as the warrant stated.”
According to Acton the police had allegedly received a complaint from a notoriously unfriendly neighbour, which led to them producing a warrant with incorrect details.
But, says Acton, the police were also not correct in first breaking into the dwelling before showing the warrant. “Warrants have to be presented before entry unless there is a real risk of destruction of evidence. Warrantless entry of homes is unlawful, unconstitutional and renders prosecution invalid since the constitutional court judgement in the *State vs Kunjana. Many cops would disregard that and cite reason to believe that evidence would be destroyed, but this is slightly more difficult today than the past. In many places, the police are still maliciously stopping and searching persons without a warrant in the street and arresting people for possession of small amounts of dagga,” Acton told the George Herald.
Acton says that all citizens should download the constitutional court judgment Case 108/17 CCT from www.saflii.org.za/za/cases/ ZACC/2018/30.pdf and keep a hard copy in their home.
Acton on confiscated items in prison
“One of the key reasons that police still arrest for any amount is because they [police officers] are simply used to stealing cannabis from known growers on a regular basis,” says Acton. Having being detained himself for having dagga ash in a matchbox prior to the Constitutional Court judgement, he witnessed how cash, cellphones and cannabis of those arrested over a weekend were given to a specific person, a gangster of rank who joins the arrested group over a weekend.
“On the Sunday night before appearing in court, mandrax was also delivered into the holding cells of the police station I was held in. That person was then ‘remanded in custody’ and entered the local prison with all of the stolen goods and drugs obtained over that weekend with the help of the police officers. I reported this to the commanding officer at the station but was simply told ‘you have no proof’.
“These police members operate in a shift. They have also raided a friend’s home while he was asleep after the ‘at home’ judgement. They seized about 300g but the arrest did not lead to any prosecution. The cannabis however completely disappeared and was never returned,” Acton said.
Vorster confirmed on Tuesday morning that his wife’s cellphone and their cannabis was still in the possession of the police.
Vorster’s phone wasn’t confiscated. He says they also have not had any access to the warrant. “We will be taking legal action against the officers involved in the raid as well as their informant, for providing false information under oath,” said Vorster.
Plight of citizens in prisons
Acton told the George Herald that despite them demanding the release of dagga-related detainees on the day of the Constitutional Court judgement, people who were arrested for their cannabis convictions before the judgement are still being detained, which is not in the interest of justice or the minimisation of harm.
“This is only a continuance of the abuse of rights and is causing great harm to families. Not to mention costs to the state,” he said.
* http://www.saflii.org.za/za/cases/ ZACC/2016/21.html
Jeremy Acton and Rastafarian lawyer Garreth Prince on the day the ban on private possession, consumption and private cultivation of cannabis at home was ruled unconstitutional.