No more trial duck­ing for Gwala

Zululand Observer - Weekender - - ZO NEWS - Or­rin Singh

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).

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