South African Suspect Admits to Trafficking Half-Kilo of Cocaine

A South African admitted to charges of trafficking more than half a kilogram of cocaine into Cambodia last year after arriving at the airport with a stomach full of drug capsules during a court hearing on Monday.

Presiding Judge Kim Rathnarin said the defendant, 30-year-old Jacobus Dawie Botha, was arrested at Phnom Penh International Airport on September 23 and charged with possessing, transporting and dealing drugs under the Drug Law.

Under questioning, Mr. Dawie Botha said he had been imprisoned for five years in South Africa for previous drug crimes, and that last year was his first attempt to bring drugs into Cambodia after having successfully trafficked them into his home country from Pakistan.

A woman he named only as “Yoko” managed the operation and organized for the cocaine to be transported from Brazil through Dubai before heading to Cambodia through Bangkok, he said. He was then supposed to hand over the haul to a Nigerian man, whom he said he did not know, at a guesthouse in Meanchey district’s Stung Meanchey commune.

Mr. Dawie Botha said he had been promised $7,000 if he was successful.

Chhum Sopheap, deputy bureau chief of the Interior Ministry’s anti-drug department, said Mr. Dawie Botha had been found with a total of 587.10 grams of cocaine, which was worth about $90,000 on the market.

“Our country is not the place for distributing cocaine,” he said. “Our country is just for transit.”

The verdict is expected to be announced on May 2.

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