Howick Rotarian’s theft case: ruling todayA

2008-12-18 00:00

A RULING on an application that Rick Baratta (78), a Rotarian and philanthropist, be discharged from prosecution on the basis that there was no evidence inculpating him is to be given by magistrate W.N. Langa today.

Baratta has been charged with stealing a laptop, two cameras and memory sticks from a woman who owed him rent.

The background to the case is that three days after Baratta fired the caretaker, Ayanda Mayisa, the latter told the police that Baratta had stolen the items. The complainant, Sizani Ngubane, alleged that they were stolen in October last year, but the caretaker made the allegations to the police on January 3, 2008, just after being fired.

John Wills, Baratta’s attorney, told the court that Ngubane had instructed Mayisa to testify against Baratta.

Pleading not guilty, Baratta denied stealing anything from Ngubane.

Wills said that the application for his discharge was based on several grounds. One was that the existence of the items allegedly stolen had never been proven in court. They had not been described or authenticated, despite the police searching for them in Baratta’s home.

State witnesses had given different descriptions of the goods and brand names of the goods changed at different stages of the state case.

Ngubane was overseas at the time. Also, as a window could be opened from outside without being broken anyone could have entered and stolen the items, if they existed.

Wills said that the evidence of state witnesses Ngubane and Mayisa was so poor that no reasonable court could convict on the basis of it.

He accused Mayisa of lying to the court. Mayisa had said he had a matric, but he claimed he could not read a statement that a police officer had taken from him. Wills said that Mayisa told the court he could not read the statement in order to cover up after he had been caught lying. — OC.

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