Interpreter in Carl Schoombie case goes AWOL

2017-03-01 12:30
The Western Cape High Court in Cape Town. (Paul Herman, News24)

The Western Cape High Court in Cape Town. (Paul Herman, News24)

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Cape Town – The Western Cape High Court on Wednesday ordered police to track down and haul in an interpreter who failed to pitch for the trial of Carl Schoombie’s alleged killers.

“I think it is absolutely unacceptable and deliberately contemptuous not to do so,” Judge Robert Henney said when handing down the order.

Christopher Nduwuayo had on Tuesday been interpreting testimony from Kinywarwanda to English, for an Uber driver who transported Schoombie and his friends the night he was assaulted.

The Stellenbosch University graduate and three friends were on their way home from a Claremont nightclub in November 2015, when he was beaten in a cul de sac. He was admitted to hospital in a coma, where he died a few days later.

Brent Henry and Juane Jacobs are standing trial for the crime.

Stern warning

Henney had warned Nduwuayo to be at court on time on Wednesday. This was after he said he had cases in other courts. He was not at court when the trial resumed on Wednesday morning. 

Prosecutor Christopher Burke said Nduwuayo had first told the investigating officer that he had to be in another court. He asked for permission to attend from 11:00. The officer relayed this to Burke, who then drafted an affidavit to this effect.

“He has failed to make himself available and deliberately disregarded an order,” said Henney.

“This court cannot be held ransom by any official, whether it be a clerk, an interpreter, a policeman, attorney or counsel.”

He ordered investigating officer, Sergeant Marlon Marais, to bring the interpreter to court. If he did not come voluntarily, Marais could arrest him to bring him in.

Henney said the Constitution empowered the high court to regulate its own procedures.

“Rules are made, not for the court, and the primary function is to attain justice.”

About two hours after the trial was supposed to start, Nduwuayo walked in alone with a diary tucked under one arm.

Henney addressed him: "You were warned to be here this morning and you said you are not going to come, the court can deal with it as it pleases. You were clearly in contempt of court." 

The interpreter explained that he worked for the Bellville Magistrate's Court from Monday to Friday. He was busy with a trial he arranged last year already and had to go there in person to explain why he would not be there. 

"I can understand your sense of duty and loyalty to them. But the fact is I ordered you to be here," said Henney.

He said the high court would have protected him from any action in the lower court. It was lucky the investigating officer had not arrested him, he added.

"I will accept your explanation but you must understand this must not happen again."

The interpreter said he understood.

The trial continues.

Read more on:    uber  |  carl schoombie  |  cape town

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