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Dagga ‘bulletproof’ vests bust

Staff Reporter

FICKSBURG — Four men who were arrested in Ficksburg on Tuesday as they tried to smuggle to Gauteng over 25kg of dagga which was neatly strapped to their bodies like bulletproof vests pleaded guilty to dealing in the illicit drug when they appeared at the Ficksburg Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.
The quartet — Thapedi Motloi, 20, Masilo Nthametsi, 26, both from Lesotho, Kelebogile Moses Thulo, 24, of Pretoria and Thabo Pastor Rapitso 22, from the North West — were arrested when a police reaction team patrolling the R26 road on Tuesday morning spotted the suspicious-looking men standing at a hiking spot for transport and approached them.
The men’s upper bodies looked disproportionally bigger than the rest of their bodies.
The police searched them and found that underneath their heavy winter jackets they were hiding packs of dagga that were neatly wrapped around their bodies using heavy-duty sticking tape.
The dagga was first packed into black refuse bags before being fastened around their bodies with the brown sticking tape, resembling police bulletproof vests.
Motloi and Nthametsi were found in possession of 8.5kg and 6.8kg of dagga respectively.
Motloi was fined R1 500 while Nthametsi was slapped with a R2 000 penalty or four months’ imprisonment.
Thulo and Rapitso were each found with 6.1 kilograms of dagga.
They were each fined R2 000 or four months in jail.
The accused admitted that they crossed the Caledon River which borders Ficksburg and Lesotho illegally to go and fetch the dagga from the mountain kingdom.
They told the court they were going to hike from Ficksburg until they reached Pretoria, about 450 kilometres away, where they intended to sell their contraband.
Ficksburg police spokesman Captain Phumelelo Dhlamini warned motorists not to offer transport to strangers as they could find themselves in trouble with the law.
“We advise motorists not to offer transport to strangers hiking because they might get arrested at roadblocks while unknowingly transporting drug smugglers,” he said.

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