State to prosecute Pietermaritzburg attorney

2014-07-02 00:00

THE state has decided to proceed with its prosecution of Pietermaritzburg attorney Oliver Bernhard on charges of assaulting two police officers.

Bernhard was informed of the decision taken by a senior public prosecutor when he appeared briefly in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court yesterday in connection with the case.

Bernhard was arrested and charged with the assaults on March 21. He was also charged at the same time with using his partner Claudia Garella’s vehicle without her consent, but that charge was formally withdrawn by the state yesterday, as it has already been resolved by way of mediation between the parties.

The charge sheet alleges that at the time of his arrest at the property in Cordwalles Road, Bernhard assaulted a police officer, Sunil Soni, by “hitting him with a clenched fist on his face” and assaulted another policeman, Njabula Ngcobo, by “throwing him over the balustrade”.

Initial attempts to also resolve the assault charges through mediation failed after Bernhard accused the prosecutor and the police of attempting to extort money from him in exchange for withdrawing the charges.

He also told the court that police were thwarting his attempts to open counter charges of assault against various other policemen, who he claims arrived at his property and severely beat him with a rifle butt while he was handcuffed to a small tree in his garden on the night in question.

Bernhard confirmed yesterday that a docket has since been opened by the police in that ­regard, but said no further action was taken in the matter.

The assault case against him has now been postponed to July 17, when it is expected that a trial date will be set.

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