Cops defend swoop on alleged drug dealer

Police from the Organised Crime Unit purposely conducted an early-morning swoop on the home of an alleged drug dealer and perlemoen poacher—knowing that the occupants were likely to be home during the early hours.

Inspector William Steenkamp told the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court on Tuesday he and his team pounced on Kiyaan Rinquest’s home in Stikland, near Bellville, soon after learning that he had been arrested in Beaufort West, in the Karoo.

Rinquest’s trial started on Tuesday, when he pleaded not guilty before magistrate Amrith Chabilall, to charges relating to the illegal possession of perlemoen, stolen vehicles, and dealing in mandrax.

The case started with legal-aid attorney Marco Thompson challenging the validity of both a warrant to search Rinquest’s home, as well as the lawfulness of the search itself.

Steenkamp told the court he obtained the search warrant from Bellville’s former chief magistrate, Schalk Verwey, five years ago.

He said his application for the warrant was accompanied by an affidavit, in which he set out the reasons for the search.

He told the court that because the Rinquest investigation was a major one he did not want to delay the search, or do it in the daytime, for fear that he would lose important evidence in the form of seized items.

He said the search warrant authorised the team to confiscate perlemoen, vehicles and perlemoen-processing equipment.

Steenkamp said the team arrived at the Rinquest home at 2.45am. He then introduced himself and the team to Rinquest’s wife and explained the reasons for their presence.

He also allowed Rinquest’s wife to summon the family lawyer, who checked the warrant and found it to be in order.

In the main bedroom and study, they found documents relating to the lease of the home, the hire of Avis vehicles, copies of workers’ ID documents, municipal accounts and the registration papers for the vehicles.

Steenkamp added: “We did not find abalone, or stolen vehicles.”

Questioned by Thompson, Steenkamp told the court: “We did not just storm the house and carry out our search—we entered in an orderly manner, and systematically searched one room at a time.”

The case continues on Wednesday. - Sapa

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