Pubdate: Sun, 04 Apr 2010
Source: Times, The (South Africa)
Copyright: 2010 The Times
Author: Monica Laganparsad


The alleged double-life of a pretty suburban mother-turned-dope dealer
was exposed in a Durban court this week.

Charmaine Bell, a 34-year-old single parent from the "leafy" suburb of
Waterfall outside Durban, allegedly ran a thriving dagga business from
home until she was raided by police three months ago.

In papers before the court it is alleged that the unemployed mother
peddled various strains of marijuana and magic mushrooms, and that
individual jars of marijuana labelled "Orange Blossom", "Hot
Chocolate", "Tootie Fruity", "Indica" and "Mango" lined her kitchen

Bell's green business card bears a marijuana leaf logo and uprooted
dagga plants were found in her garden.

Her alleged activities bear a striking resemblance to those of the
lead character - a widowed suburban mother of two boys who turns to
selling marijuana to make a living - in the popular M-Net television
series Weeds.

Bell was raided by police in January, charged with two counts of drug
possession and released on bail.

This week, the High Court in Durban heard that police confiscated
R40000 - allegedly earned in just nine days - during the raid on her
home. The money had been locked in a safe.

The money is now at the centre of a battle for a preservation order,
with police arguing that the cash is the proceeds of crime.

The case was adjourned to next month to allow Bell time to find legal

A former customer, whose statement was included in court documents,
said he "assumed business was picking up because she (Bell) supplied a
wider variety of dagga".

He said he first met Bell in 2008 when she lived with her now
estranged husband.

"All the dagga was displayed in see-through containers with lids. The
prices were displayed on the lids - "Tootie Fruity" was R40 a gram
. "Swazi" was marked R10 a gram and hashish was R60 a gram," he

In an affidavit, investigating officer Detective Inspector Karl Sander
said Bell kept daily records of her earnings.

He said police had uncovered a "quantity of dagga too large for
personal consumption" at her home.

"The paraphernalia, literature, electronic scale, business cards and
hand-written records noting drug transactions suggest that Bell was
selling drugs as a business," Sander said. 
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