Bar ‘was quite annoying’

2016-01-29 10:49

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Pietermaritzburg - The Hawks officer in charge of the “bugging” investigation against Advocate Penny Hunt said on Thursday he became “quite annoyed” at the pressure put on him during the investigation by members of the Pietermaritzburg Bar.

Warrant Officer Rocco Vermeulen told Judge Albert Kruger and Judge Connie Mocume he was given “so many documents” by the Bar that he simply started filing them and could not recall each one of them.

He also testified that during the investigation he had received “many calls” from senior advocates Gerhard Roberts, SC, and Adrian Rall, SC, who wanted him to expedite the investigation.

“It was quite annoying … normally I don’t have that amount of pressure to investigate a matter in a certain direction,” he said.

Vermeulen agreed with a suggestion by advocate Peter Hodes, SC (representing Hunt) that the Bar was “very keen to get a conviction” in the matter.

“It was quite irritating in fact,” he said.

Vermeulen testified that he had received a phone call from Rall after state advocate Attie Truter had declined to prosecute Hunt (in December 2014).

“To put it lightly, he was not happy at all,” he said.

Vermeulen denied, however, that he put pressure on Houston Wayne Impey, who has admitted planting a bug in the advocates’ chambers to provide the Bar with an affidavit in the case. He agreed that he was given an affidavit drafted by someone at the Bar and was requested to ask Impey to sign it, which he did.

Vermeulen said he did not know that Impey, through his attorney Anthony Irons, had already declined to “get involved” in the civil case in which the society of advocates was seeking to have Hunt disbarred, because Impey was a state witness in the criminal case which was still pending at that time.

Vermeulen said he had contacted Impey and “probably told him that there was a statement that needed to be signed”.

However, he had no reason to put pressure on Impey, and did not stand to gain anything by doing so.

Another witness yesterday, Timmy Gopaul of RT Electronics, told the court that Rall called him to the advocates’ chambers on Sunday, March 13, 2011.

He and fellow technician Derrick Qepho met Rall and another advocate at the chambers and at their request started searching for a listening device.

“When we started to read the ceiling in the secretary’s office, the device we were using started beeping and changing colours,” he said.

Gopaul said this demonstrated the presence of radio frequencies and they realised that “something was there”.

When they pushed up a ceiling panel, a “microphone fell out”.

Rall then called the police. They also recovered a transmitter from the ceiling.

The case concerns an application by the Society of Advocates of KZN to strike Hunt off the roll of advocates for alleged unethical conduct and other complaints.

Hunt denies allegations that she instructed Impey to plant the listening device in the advocates’ chambers and to put a tracker onto the car of fellow advocate Mergen Chetty, or that she was responsible for the “theft” of the CCTV hard drive at the chambers during 2010. She alleges she is the victim of a vendetta.

The incidents followed a rumpus at a Bar function in June 2010, during which her husband, Cameron Hunt, SC, punched Chetty.

The case is proceeding.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  hawks  |  court

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