Sep 1, 2011, 1:54 PM
(Monday, 26th October 2009 Issue)
Muhammed Nasr, Ousainu Aladin and Momodou Chure, staff of Kairaba Shopping Centre and Aladin Butchery, were on 22nd October, 2009, arraigned before Senior Magistrate Abdoulie Mbacke of the Kanifing Magistrates? Court, for allegedly selling steak at D170 and D175 per kilo, respectively.
Both pleaded not guilty.
Lawyer Senghore rose to say she was representing the first accused person, while Lawyer Badou S.M. Conteh informed the court that he was representing the second and third accused persons, respectively.
Cadet Inspector Mballow stood to represent the IGP. He called his first witness, First Class 1381 Ramatulie Sallah, to testify against the accused persons.
In her testimony, she told the court that she lives in Banjul at Anglesea Street and that she is a Police Officer attached to Kairaba Police Station. She stated that she recognised the accused persons and knows Kairaba Shopping Centre.
She indicated that she also knows Aladin Butchery and remembered on 19th October 2009, when she was on duty between 10am and 11a.m. She narrated further that her boss, one Sergeant Bass, gave her assignment that there was a supermarket selling meat at a higher price and that she should go and find out. She testified that her boss gave her D1050 and she started at Aladin Supermarket and bought a kilo of steak at D175 and asked for a receipt which was given to her.
She indicated that she proceeded to Kairaba Shopping Centre and bought a kilo of steak at D170 and was given a receipt. She narrated further that she went back to the station and gave the receipts and meat to her boss.
At this juncture, the meat and the receipts were tendered as exhibits without any objection by the Defence Counsel.
All of a sudden, Cadet Inspector Mballow informed the court that he had an urgent telephone call and said ASP Sanneh would take over the case from him and left immediately.
Under cross-examination by Lawyer Senghore, the witness answered in the negative when she was asked whether she went on her own to Kairaba Shopping Centre. She said she was accompanied by one Rohey Cham, who is a Drug Squad Officer.
When asked whether she knows the owner of Kairaba Shopping Centre, she replied it is owned by the first accused.
When put to her that Kairaba Shopping Centre is owned by a company, she said she did not know.
On whether there is any price control law in The Gambia, she answered in the positive. When asked what the law says, ASP Sanneh intervened to say that police officers do not make laws but enforce them.
Magistrate Mbacke insisted that the witness should answer the question.
Then the witness told the court that she does not know the price control law. It was again put to her that there is no law which prescribes the price of meat in The Gambia, to which she replied in the positive.
It was Lawyer Badou S.M. Conteh?s turn to cross-examine the witness.
"You said you went to Kairaba Shopping Centre and Aladin Supermarket. Is that correct?" Lawyer Conteh asked.
"Yes," the witness answered.
"I am putting it to you that you are not speaking the truth because Aladin is a restaurant and not a supermarket," Badou Conteh challenged.
"Aladin is also a supermarket attached to a restaurant," she said.
"The receipt you obtained from Aladin shows that Aladin is butchery. You are not truthful," Badou Conteh told the witness.
"Do you know the Proprietor of Aladin Restaurant?" Badou Conteh asked.
"I don?t know," she replied.
"How can you arrest somebody you don?t know?" Badou Conteh enquired.
"I did not do the arresting but bought from them" she added.
"It is correct that you should identify to the arresting officer the person you bought the meat from." Badou Conteh questioned.
"It is not correct," she replied.
"Did you buy the meat from the second accused person and the other?"
"No," the witness said.
"Are you aware of any law passed and gazetted?" Badou Conteh asked.
"No," she told the court.
"So if there is no law, is it proper to arrest people selling meat?" asked Badou Conteh.
"It is correct and proper," she replied.
"Is it your role to determine the price of commodities in The Gambia, as a Police Officer?" Badou Conteh challenged again.
"No," she answered.
The case at this junction was adjourned to 9th November, 2009, for continuation.
The accused persons were granted bail on the deposition of D5000 or the provision of a Gambian surety who should swear to an affidavit of means.