Perlemoen smuggler wins right to have 32-year prison term reviewed
A BELLVILLE magistrate has granted drug and perlemoen smuggler Kiyaam Rinquest his request to have his 32-year prison term reviewed.
Commercial Crimes Court Magistrate Amrith Chabilall however yesterday dismissed Rinquest’s leave to appeal against his conviction.
Last month Chabilall found Rinquest, 48, guilty of two counts of dealing in drugs, three counts of vehicle theft, and four counts of poaching and possession of perlemoen and money laundering. Rinquest was acquitted of the remaining 13 of the 23 counts he faced.
Rinquest’s lawyer Marco Thomas said the court failed to take Rinquest’s version of events into account. When he was arrested on June 25, 2003, he was found in possession of more than 51 000 mandrax tablets and nearly 1kg of dagga which he said he was merely transporting to Cape Town from Joburg.
Thomas said Chabilall found Rinquest guilty of vehicle theft but failed to acknowl- edge it was part of Rinquest’s business to buy and sell cars.
Rinquest has denied processing or being in possession of perlemoen or involvement in money laundering.
In terms of the sentence, Thomas said Chabilall put emphasis on the interest of the community and not Rinquest’s personal circumstances, which included his age and that he was the sole breadwinner in the family.
State advocate Derick Vogel argued against the application, saying he was certain there were in-house facilities for prisoners to be rehabilitated.
Vogel said the application presented by the defence was repetition and that Thomas had argued similarly during heads of arguments before judgment.
“It is the opinion of the state that the court thoroughly and clearly stated its reasons for judgment and has made the correct finding.”
Chabilall said Rinquest’s application for leave to appeal against his conviction had “no merit” as the evidence against him was “overwhelming”.
He said the sentence handed down – 35 years for dealing in drugs, 12 for vehicle theft, eight for poaching and possession of perlemoen and eight for money laundering – would “surely stand the test of scrutiny”.
Chabilall granted Rinquest leave to appeal against his sentence which should be heard in the Cape High Court within 21 days.