Brothel case: Doctor wants new lawyers

2013-04-16 16:41

Durban - A doctor accused of running a brothel from his hotel successfully applied in the Durban Regional Court on Tuesday to have his case postponed to allow him to get new lawyers.

Dr Genchen Rugnath, his wife Ravina, and three other people are accused of human trafficking and keeping a brothel, in Durban's Point area, where children as young as 12 were kept.

The other three are Sandile Patrick Zweni, 36, Nonduzo Dlamini, 24, and Bhabha Dubazini.

All five have pleaded not guilty to 156 charges, including assault, rape, sexual exploitation of a child, and racketeering.

The court was told the relationship between the Rugnaths and their former attorney Anand Nepaul had "irretrievably broken down".

Earlier this month, Nepaul told magistrate Simphiwe Hlophe he had withdrawn because of a "breakdown in trust". He represented the pair when the trial started in January and was due to represent them in June when the trial resumed.

The Rugnaths applied on Monday to have the case postponed to allow them to petition the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) to withdraw the charges, and because their new lawyer was not available in June for continuation of the trial.

Hlophe rejected their application, but said he would grant a postponement to ensure they were entitled to proper legal representation.

State prosecutor Yuri Gangai opposed the application, saying the couple had terminated Nepaul's services and had had sufficient time to brief new counsel.

Jimmy Howse, the Rugnath's new defence counsel, told the court there was a "significant fee issue" between Nepaul and the Rugnaths that needed to be settled. This would allow him to obtain documentation from Nepaul which he needed to defend the Rugnaths.

Granting the postponement, Hlophe warned the Rugnaths he would "not be accepting any [more] excuses" for further delays.

The matter was postponed to 2 September.

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