Defence protests ‘hearsay’ evidence

2012-02-02 00:00

THE high court has been asked to find that murder accused Thenjiwe Griffiths (29) will not get a fair trial if the court allows “hearsay” evidence about things her late husband allegedly told his attorney.

This allegation forms part of the submissions made yesterday before Judge Rishi Seegobin and assessors by defence advocate Shane Matthews.

Matthews has also challenged the right of the state to lead the evidence of witnesses who had not made statements to the police, because the defence could then not foresee what they were going to testify about.

He submitted this was a clear violation of the accused’s right to information and to a fair trial in terms of the Constitution.

He alleged that although their names had been on the state’s witness list, neither the attorney, Connie Marais, nor the Griffiths’s former domestic worker, Doris Ntinga, had made statements and said this would compromise the accused’s defence.

Matthews also complained that the defence was not told that Marais had kept notes of his consultations with Allan Griffiths, nor were copies of these notes made available to the defence prior to his testimony.

State advocate Dorian Paver is expected to respond to the submissions in detail today.

He briefly submitted yesterday, however, that there is no legal duty on the state to obtain statements from witnesses before they testify.

Marais testified earlier this week that he drew up a new will for Allan Griffiths shortly after his marriage to Thenjiwe in 2005.

He said that at the time Griffiths became “upset” when told that his three children would not be able to inherit his entire estate because his new wife was entitled to half. This was because the couple had married in community of property.

He said Griffiths consulted him again on two occasions in June 2005 to discuss divorcing Thenjiwe and to obtain a domestic violence interdict against her.

Griffiths allegedly told Marais that when he met her Thenjiwe was working as a prostitute at a local bar in Richards Bay and that he was under the influence of alcohol when he proposed marriage to her.

Thenjiwe Griffiths has pleaded not guilty to charges that she staged her husband’s hijacking and murder near Colenso in the Midlands in January 2006.

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