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Drug dealing couple sentenced in landmark case

Collins Vwakaneme & his wife Veliswa were sentenced to 15 years in KZN on Monday.

FILE. Collins Vwakaneme & his wife Veliswa have been sentenced to 15 years for manufacturing and selling a drug commonly known as ‘Bath Salts’. Picture: SAPS.

JOHANNESBURG - Synthetic drug manufacturers and dealers will now face the full force of the law after the Durban Regional Court handed down a hefty sentence to two convicted drug dealers in a landmark case on Monday.

Police said the 15-year sentence handed to 37-year-old Collins Vwakaneme and his 32-year-old wife Veliswa will set a precedent for future drug trafficking cases.

The couple were arrested in July 2013 after they were found in possession of synthetic drugs valued at R4 million.

Police said that in the past, synthetic drug dealers have just been fined for producing a potentially fatal drug, because the materials were legal.

The police's Vishnu Naidoo said the Drug Act had to be amended to convict the manufacturers, to include the legal chemicals used.

"Great efforts were made by the investigating officers and by the National Drug Task Team to have the Drug Act reviewed and to make provision for these chemicals."

He said the synthetic drugs have frightening and sometimes fatal effects.

Vwakaneme and his wife were convicted for manufacturing and selling a drug commonly known as 'Bath Salts', using legal chemicals that when combined replace hard drugs like cocaine, heroin and ecstasy.

National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega has hailed the case as a great success that will help efforts to combat drug trafficking.