Mom begs for mercy

The lawyer representing a young mother, who was sentenced to four years in jail after being caught with 25 Mandrax tablets, has described the sentence as “unjustified and shocking”.

17 July 2019 | Justice

A mother of three minor children is asking the High Court to reduce her four-year prison sentence, or fine her instead, after she pleaded guilty to dealing in Mandrax tablets.

She was arrested in an informal settlement at Grootfontein in February 2018, and was found in possession of 25 Mandrax tablets, weighing just over 35.49 grams, and valued at N$3 525.

Angela Marukus (31) pleaded guilty in the Grootfontein Magistrate's Court last year, after she was charged with dealing in potentially dangerous dependence-producing drugs.

She told Magistrate Stanley Tembwe that she “was in a business of selling Mandrax”, which she knew was illegal.

In her initial notice of appeal, dated October 2018, the mother of three asked that the court consider her status as a first-time offender.

She further underlined she is the sole caregiver of three minor children and in October, was four months pregnant.

Her appeal noted that the four-year sentence “is too heavy for me to bear the stress”.

It is unclear what the status of the fourth infant is currently.

She underlined further that while her children had been in the care of their grandmother during her trial in Grootfontein, they now face an “unstable situation” after she was put behind bars.

She also reminded the court that she was a first-time offender. She has stressed that she only wishes to appeal her sentence, and not the conviction.

In an amended notice of appeal filed on Marukus's behalf in April this year, her Legal Aid-appointed lawyer submitted and argued that the magistrate failed to ensure she was represented during arguments in mitigation of sentence, and thus failed to lobby for information which could have “assisted him in coming to an appropriate sentence”.

Laura Pack of Pack Law Chambers further submitted that the magistrate did not take her personal circumstances into consideration, and underemphasised that she was a first-time offender.

The amended notice of appeal argues that the four-year sentence imposed is “unjustified and shocking and no reasonable court would have imposed it”.

Transcripts from the swift trial proceedings at the Grootfontein Magistrate's Court last year show the State had asked that the court impose a fine of N$10 000 and a five-year sentence, following on Marukus's guilty plea.

Magistrate Tembwe said the proposed sentence by the State was “disturbingly inappropriate and misleading”.

He highlighted that the accused had pleaded guilty “and did not waste the court's time”. The magistrate referred to her three children, but noted that the offence of dealing in Mandrax is a serious crime.

He said people who use Mandrax often become dependent and this may lead some to commit other crimes.

The magistrate further warned that Mandrax-related offences have “become prevalent in this district of Grootfontein”.

He said Marukus had “ventured into a very wrong business”.

“She was not even shy to tell the court how she was dealing; she was brave to mention that.”

The magistrate underlined that offenders must be deterred and a lesson must be learnt that “Mandrax is indeed a substance which is not supposed to be sold in public or being possessed in public”.


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