Private use of cannabis must be discussed in parliament – Tjombe

Brian Jaftha

Lawyer Norman Tjombe says the private use of cannabis should be addressed in parliament as soon as possible.

He says it’s time to deal with it as a matter that not only infringes on people’s privacy, but also on followers of the Rastafarian religion.

“It is a matter the parliament must urgently consider, or it will end up in the courts where the prohibitory law is likely to be said to be unconstitutional,” Tjombe said.

This comes after the president of the Ganja Users of Namibia (GUN) and the Rastafari United Front (RUF), Brian Jaftha, was recently sentenced to two years in prison on a five-year old case of dealing in 97 grams of cannabis valued at N$1 940.

Jaftha was arrested in Khomasdal on 2 August 2019, after he was caught trying to sell an undercover police officer cannabis.

GUN secretary general Borro Ndungula says Jaftha’s sentence is unlawful and that the magistrate made a mistake.

“If he is really sentenced for 97 grams there must be a mistake. You can convict someone of dealing if they had more than that,” Ndungula told The Namibian.

He said the organisation plans to appeal Jaftha’s sentence after consulting with defence lawyer Kadhila Amoomo.

He said Jaftha’s arrest has affected the operations of the organisation as they rely on his wisdom and knowledge for day to day operations.

“Brian Jaftha is the head of Ganja Users of Namibia… we rely on his wisdom, knowledge and leadership for their day-to-day operations,” Ndungula said.

He has appealed to the Windhoek Correctional Service to not cut Jaftha’s hair, and to provide him with a Rastafarian diet.

This comes after Jaftha asked the court for his matter to be referred to a social worker if he is sent to prison, “as I do not want to cut my hair, and I do not eat meat”.

Ndungula says cutting Jaftha’s hair would be seen as an act of war on the Rastafarian religion.

He reiterated that Rastafarianism is a religion and the Constitution provides for the practising of different religions.

The founder of the Cannabis and Hemp Association of Namibia, Angela Prusa, this week said Jaftha’s arrest calls for the government and the public to look at how the prohibition of cannabis violates human rights.

“This is a victimless crime,” she said.

Prusa took to Facebook recently and said the war on cannabis is racist, and does nothing but increase the use of drugs in communities.

She called for the immediate release and retrial of Jaftha and said the cannabis that was found in his possession five years ago should be tested.

“. . . the necessary laboratory analysis tests to prove it was THC-containing cannabis need to be presented,” Prusa said.

She said the government is violating the human rights of cannabis users as stipulated in the Constitution.

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