Woman arrested without warning

2010-11-30 00:00

WHEN a local attorney, Yashica Chetty, was stopped at a routine roadblock two weeks ago she never suspected she was about to be arrested for a parking offence, as she had never received a summons to appear in court.

At court she was shown a return of service and advised that the person responsible for serving the summons had handed it to her son, who signed for it.

Chetty alleges the signature on the document is false and said she is able to produce passports proving that both she and her only son were overseas on the date the summons was supposed to have been served — September 18.

She was forced to appear in court again the following day to produce the passports and the case against her was subsequently withdrawn.

Others may not be so lucky.

The Witness has learned that contractors appointed to serve summonses earn a commission for each one they serve successfully.

Chetty said the experience was “quite an ordeal” for her, despite her profession.

For a lay person who has no idea of the workings of the legal system it would be even more traumatic.

She said that after she had queried the validity of the warrant of arrest, the officers who detained her wanted to place her into the holding cells pending her appearance in court, but they did not carry out the threat.

There is reason to believe that Chetty’s experience might not be an isolated case and that other people could fall — or may already have fallen — victim to such an incident.

The Witness is aware of a similar incident involving a local resident who wished to remain anonymous for professional reasons.

Chetty said she was told that on the day she had appeared in court at least four other people were also querying summonses allegedly served on them.

“I made a statement at the magistrate’s court and I hope that the matter is under investigation,” she said.

Chetty said she is prepared to open a case with the SA Police Force if required to do so.

Warrant Officer Joey Jeevan advised Chetty to contact the police and lay a complaint as soon as possible so that the matter can be investigated.

She confirmed that, although it is recommended that a summons is served personally on the person to whom it is addressed, the law does allow a responsible person over the age of 16 years who is also resident at the particular address, to sign for the document.

By doing so that person becomes responsible for ensuring that it reaches the intended recipient.

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