Zululand Observer - Monday

Gwala court slams retired advocate

- Orrin Singh

I have a soft heart… I will not leave him alone

THE CASE against alleged rhino poaching ‘kingpin’ Dumisani Gwala and his co accused has been postponed to 12 December to allow Gwala to secure legal representa­tion. The air was thick with tension as a heavy police contingenc­y kept a watchful eye on proceeding­s both in and outside the Mtubatuba Regional Court where Gwala, together with his co accused, Wiseman Makeba and Aubrey Dlamini, appeared on Thursday. Confusion seemed to be the order of the day when proceeding­s began, as the state raised an issue regarding the admission of Gwala’s new advocate. Retired Advocate, Marianna Nicholson of Mpumalanga - who the ZO understand­s had been introduced to the case by Gwala’s previous attorney during pre-trial in June as the advocate who would represent Gwala pro bono – was grilled in the morning after the state informed the court that she was not enrolled as an advocate and therefore had no right to appear on behalf of Gwala. Nicholson, who sat in the public gallery, was thoroughly questioned by Magistrate Zungu regarding the legality of her appearance. She informed the court that Gwala had phoned her on Tuesday evening and told her that his attorney at the time, Nompumelel­o Linda, failed to appear in court and represent him on Monday. ‘I was asked if can please come down and represent Mr Gwala. ‘I said my services were terminated and not required anymore. ‘I said to Mr Gwala I will come down to see what we can do – I have a soft heart,’ she said. This infuriated Magistrate Zungu who told Nicholson that she does not want to know about her heart, to which Nicholson replied: ‘I will not leave him alone.’ Magistrate Zungu then turned her attention to Gwala who said he did not know Nicholson was retired and that she could not represent him. He pleaded for yet another postponeme­nt, citing that if the court wanted justice to be served it needed to allow him the opportunit­y to find another attorney. Gwala further informed the court that he was not deliberate­ly delaying the case and that the issue of Nicholson’s credential­s was out of his hands and not his fault. The state in the meantime did not oppose the idea of postponeme­nt and noted that unlike previous delays in the case, this issue was different. ‘It appears that from all angles, most delays are caused due to withdrawal­s of attorneys, however, today is a different scenario. ‘Accused 2 (Gwala) would not have known of this predicamen­t and the court should grant the postponeme­nt,’ said Mrs Mcambi of the prosecutin­g team. Despite this, Mcambi highlighte­d that an inquiry in terms of Section 342(b) of the Criminal Procedure Act should be held so that the court could establish who is causing the delay. Following a short conferral Magistrate Zungu said she had no choice but to grant the postponeme­nt in relation to a technicali­ty that the legal representa­tive (Nicholson) had no credential­s and could not appear. ‘I am going to monitor the progress of this matter. ‘On the next occasion, accused 2 must come with a legal representa­tive. ‘I also require documentat­ion that the person is a practicing attorney to ensure when this matter is set down for trial, this does not happen again,’ said Zungu. Gwala, Makeba and Dlamini face a combined 10 charges relating to the illegal purchase and possession of rhino horn‚ and of resisting arrest.

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