Accused taxi drivers want court decision declared unlawful

2011-02-10 00:00

THREE Pietermaritzburg Metro Taxis drivers charged with assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm arising from a fracas with a rival operator from Wesley’s Taxis at the weekend, brought an urgent application yesterday to have their continued imprisonment declared unlawful.

However, after considering the application papers filed on behalf of Aboobaker Mohamed, Jeetendra Jaggernath and Faiz Gokool, high court Judge Themba Sishi postponed the matter until today.

He said this was to give the state an opportunity to obtain an affidavit from local magistrate, Z. Dlamini, at whose instance it is alleged the men’s bail is now being opposed in the magistrate’s court.

According to court papers, prior to the magistrate’s intervention and questioning of the complainant in the case (Calvin Naidoo), the accuseds’ attorney was told bail was not being opposed in the matter.

Junaid Sayed, the proprietor of Metro Taxis and Yellow Cabs KZN, alleges in an affidavit that Dlamini clearly “overstepped her authority and entered into the sphere of conducting the state’s case” when the three accused appeared before her on Tuesday afternoon.

He said he found it “absolutely astounding” that Dlamini had questioned the complainant in the case “to ascertain whether bail was opposed or not”; as well as the “manner” in which the magistrate allegedly conducted herself.

Sayed also alleged the magistrate “seemed to have knowledge of the contents of the docket”.

“Magistrate Dlamini is a judicial officer employed by the Department of Justice and as such holds a position which demands that she be unbiased, act lawfully and be completely objective. She is obliged to allow the state and defence attorney to present their case thereby allowing her to come to a just and fair decision which the interests of justice demand,” submitted Sayed.

According to Sayed, Dlamini had called Naidoo’s name and asked him in open court what had happened on the day of the incident.

“Naidoo responded that he assaulted one of the drivers who was not in court and then the driver’s colleagues in turn assaulted him.”

Sayed said the magistrate then asked Naidoo if he thought he would be safe if the applicants were released on bail and he twice responded he did not know.

“Magistrate Dlamini persisted for an answer from Naidoo who eventually conceded he would not be safe because an attempt was made on his life and that he feared for his life.

“Magistrate Dlamini turned to the public prosecutor — completely disregarding the applicant’s legal representative — and stated that bail was opposed,” said Sayed.

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