Verbal abuse trial hits dead end

2012-10-06 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG show promoter Sunny Gayadin produced a star witness yesterday — who then came under sustained attack — in a defamation case centring on some choice South African slurs.

Yogenathan Govindsamy, a bulletin editor for Lotus FM news, is suing Gayadin for R100 000 after he claimed he was verbally abused by the businessman for refusing to run a story.

The matter dates back to an incident on December 5, 2009 and the case has been in and out of court since last year.

Govindsamy said in his pleadings that Gayadin allegedly hurled a host of derogatory terms over the phone that made reference to certain parts of his mother’s and sister’s anatomy, while also drawing attention in a negative way to his ancestors from south India.

He also alleged Gayadin told a superior, SABC’s acting regional editor for KZN Thabo Mofokeng, that Govindsamy was corrupt and on “someone’s payroll” for refusing to broadcast the story on the radio.

The story dealt with a double show in Durban and Johannesburg involving an Indian performer known as Shaan, who Gayadin got arrested for owing money to him from past dealings.

Gayadin wanted Lotus to tell listeners the shows were not going to take place because the artist was being detained.

Govindsamy refused to broadcast the story until he had verified Gayadin’s version of events and it was the newsman’s refusal, according to the papers, which led to the insults allegedly being uttered.

Yesterday, Prakash Maistry (41) took the stand in defence of Gayadin, whom he described as a friend and “business associate” in the property industry for 10 years.

He denied Gayadin made any of the remarks alleged by Govindsamy and said he was with the businessman the entire Saturday when the calls were made.

Maistry admitted there was one “heated conversation”, but that Gayadin simply told Govindsamy he was going to report the matter to a senior.

Several times Maistry said he was unable to recall the exact words spoken by Gayadin, although he understood the nature of the conversations.

Under cross-examination by attorney Anand Nepaul, he said his recollections were confined only to those calls to Govindsamy.

However, he was unable to stipulate the precise number of calls Gayadin made to Govindsamy, only that he could remember their general essence.

Nepaul, who labelled Maistry a “fabricated witness” — a charge he denied — got him to admit being in the court during a previous sitting when, as a witness, he was able to follow all the testimony.

Maistry also confessed, tentatively at times, to consulting a lawyer in Durban, whose full name he couldn’t recall, while in the presence of Gayadin, something Nepaul took issue with.

Earlier in the day, Nepaul and Gayadin’s lawyer Naren Sangham spent much of the morning arguing with each other over aspects of the law.

At one point, magistrate Thandeka Fikeni leaned over to Sangham and asked, “Why are you so emotional?” following an outburst in which he exclaimed to another of Nepaul’s objections: “That’s nonsense”.

The frosty relations continued most of the day until finally, after court was relocated due to a faulty recording machine, Fikeni adjourned proceedings.

A date for continuation of trial will be set.

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