No more trial ducking for Gwala
AFTER three years of playing a judicial game of cat and mouse, trial proceedings in the case against alleged rhino poaching kingpin Dumisani Gwala are finally expected to commence.
Gwala, together with his co accused Wiseman Makeba and Aubrey Dlamini, will this morning (Thursday) appear in the Mtubatuba Regional Court where the three face a combined 10 charges relating to the illegal purchase and possession of rhino horn‚ and of resisting arrest.
The case had originally been set down for trial on Monday, but Gwala’s attorney Nompumelelo Linda was not present to represent him - this despite the fact that his co-accused and the state were ready to proceed with the trial.
Magistrate Zungu on Monday gave Gwala an ultimatum. She would roll the matter over until Wednesday on condition that Linda appears on his behalf, but if not, he would have to represent himself.
During his appearance on Wednesday, Gwala attempted to once again delay court proceedings, something the court noted he had been doing since 2015.
Linda was not present in court but had submitted two emails, one to the resident public prosecutor and another to the registrar of the court.
The emails, which were read out to court, indicated she had instructed a local attorney (Mr Madela) to stand in on her behalf and withdraw from the case.
Linda noted that she had not been able to consult with Gwala despite numerous attempts to do so before the trial date, and that there were financial issues relating to her client that were yet to be finalised and she could therefore no longer represent him.
Gwala told the court this was not the case and that Linda had been lying in her emails.
He went on to inform the court he had new legal representation, retired Advocate Marianna Nicholson of Mpumalanga, who the ZO understands had been introduced to the case by Linda during pre-trial in June as the advocate who would represent Gwala pro bono.
Magistrate Zungu remained adamant that there would be no further postponement of the case, knowing in all likelihood that Nicholson could argue for a postponement in order to prepare for trial.
‘If I look at the history of this case, it is clear to me that Mr Gwala has used delaying tactics to prevent this case from going to trial.
‘Every time the matter is ready to proceed, Mr Gwala’s attorney withdraws.
‘As of now, accused two (Gwala) has no legal representation, and from the emails sent by Ms Linda she has stated she has no interest in this matter.’
A visibly agitated Zungu told the court she would be taking up the issue of Ms Linda with the KZN Law Society.
‘I will not deal with her in this court because she previously confirmed her readiness to proceed with this matter and did not inform the court that there were outstanding issues she needed to sort out with her client.
In 2016 the ZO reported that the case had been plagued with delays as new attorneys hired days before the case comes before the court, plead leniency as they were not adequately prepared.
Magistrate Zungu adjourned proceedings as Nicholson confirmed with the court in writing that she would be present to represent Gwala and proceed with trial today (Thursday).