Jude Ward trial postponed

2010-06-16 00:00

THE trial of Camperdown motorist Jude Ward, who was involved in an altercation with a traffic officer at the Camperdown police station on January 18, was postponed yesterday due to the officer’s reluctance to give evidence against Ward ahead of his own assault trial, which is due to start on October 12.

Ward has been charged with inconsiderate driving and of failing to obey a traffic officer’s instructions arising from the incident.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is now to be asked to intervene to resolve the apparent stalemate between Ward and the traffic officer, Edward Xolani Mtshali.

Both have a constitutional right not to give evidence that may incriminate them in pending proceedings.

Mtshali indicated during discussions behind closed doors with the state and defence lawyers yesterday that he wants an opportunity to obtain legal advice on whether he ought to waive his rights in this regard before reaching a decision on whether to testify or not.

Ward’s defence advocate, Christo van Schalkwyk SC, told Camperdown magistrate Thambo Nkosi that although Ward was “prepared and ready” to start her trial yesterday, Mtshali has a right to be properly informed before being asked to give evidence that might infringe on his rights in his pending trial.

“We cannot ask him to waive his constitutional rights,” he said.

Van Schalkwyk said Ward could find herself facing a similar dilemma if asked to give evidence [against Mtshali] before her trial.

“It seems to be a case here of who goes first — the chicken or the egg?” he said.

Van Schalkwyk said he will make representations to the prosecutions director to decide the future course of the two trials.

The hearing was postponed provisionally to July 16.

The DPP issued instructions earlier this year that both Ward and Mtshali were to be tried separately on charges and countercharges arising from the incident on January 18.

Ward was charged with inconsiderate driving and of failing to obey the instructions of a traffic officer on the day in question.

Mtshali was ordered to stand trial for allegedly assaulting Ward at Camperdown police station on the same day.

It is alleged by the state that Mtshali pushed Ward to the ground, placed his knee on her back and hit her forehead on the floor during the incident.

The assault allegedly occurred after Mtshali had pursued Ward along the N3 in an unmarked vehicle.

Ward and some of her supporters who attended yesterday’s hearing said they were dismayed by the further delay as they had been hoping for finality in the matter.

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