PRETORIA – A businessman from Brits and a Menlo Park company have instituted a damages claim for more than R5,8 million against Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula, after police arrested the man and destroyed his “scientific” dagga crop.
Transvaal Deputy Judge President Jerry Shongwe granted leave to businessman Russel de Beer and the company Leading Prospect Trading to proceed with legal action for unlawful arrest and delictual damages, despite them not giving timeous notice of their claim.
According to court papers, the police raided De Beer’s farm at Kameeldrift, near Brits, in February 2004, arrested him and destroyed his crops, stock and seeds.
This was despite the fact that he had been cultivating cannabis in collaboration with the Agricultural Research Council under permits issued by the Health Department since 2002, and had in fact developed a new variety of cannabis for industrial use.
De Beer was in the process of registering intellectual property rights in respect of the new variety locally and internationally, and had negotiated local and international contracts for the supply and cultivation of hemp when his crop was destroyed.
He was prosecuted for unlawful cultivation and dealing in a prohibited substance, but was acquitted.
Leading Prospect Trading, which owned the crop, is claiming R3,6 million damages, and De Beer more than R2,2 million for the injury to his good name and reputation, legal costs, loss of income and intellectual property rights and a loss of profits. Citizen Pretoria News IOL