Bid to get judge to recuse himself

2009-02-23 00:00

The Safety and Security Minister has given notice of an intention to bring an application for Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Nic van der Reyden to recuse himself from a civil trial.

The case deals with a former Vryheid game rancher and a farm manager who are suing the state for trauma inflicted on them when they were attacked and one was raped in a police cell by 14 inmates in 2006.

However, before the judge is prepared to hear the application, he yesterday ordered the state to honour its obligations to pay an earlier cost order awarded against it amounting to at least R134 000 and to pay punitive costs — including the accommodation and travel expenses incurred by witnesses — for causing a further adjournment of the trial yesterday.

The case was set down for hearing over five days this week, but when the case got under way, advocate Sash Nankan brought an application for the judge’s recusal.

Advocate Gerhard Roberts SC, who together with advocate Gerhard van der Walt, acts for Etienne van Wyk and Zacharia Duvenhage, said the state has had ample time to lodge its application and also complained that the state had not honoured the previous cost order, even though the bill was taxed and agreed on by representatives of all the parties in December last year.

The trial has now been postponed sine die (indefinitely).

• Game farmer Van Wyk was allegedly repeatedly sodomised and both he and farm manager Duvenhage were allegedly severely assaulted following their arrest on January 27, 2006 on a charge that they transported game animals without a licence.

•It is alleged that they were placed in a police cell at Hlobane that held 14 suspects wanted for violent crimes including murder and rape.

•An acting station commander at the Hlobane police cells allegedly slept through the attack.

•Van Wyk is seeking damages of R1,2 million and Duvenhage R350 000.

•The case was adjourned in October last year when Advocate Joseph Kilani (representing the minister of Safety and Security) informed Judge Van der Reyden after a discussion in chambers that he did not feel able to proceed with the case and withdrew.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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