Ungagged: Hunt for bug at lawyer's office

2011-05-12 00:00

DETAILS can finally be revealed of a police investigation into the alleged bugging of the advocates’ chambers in Pietermaritzburg and a subsequent police raid on the chambers of local advocate, Penny Hunt, on March 14.

This follows an agreement with The Witness in terms of which Hunt agreed not to pursue a bid to prevent publication of the details — or even the existence — of an application by her aimed at obtaining documents and information from police relating to the search, as well as prohibit investigators from accessing the computer hard drives they had seized.

She has noted her intention to approach the court to challenge the lawfulness and validity of the search warrant obtained by police, and complains that the information seized is privileged and infringes her fundamental right to privacy, and her clients’ rights.

When the case came before Judge Piet Koen on April 21, the police had already agreed to provide Hunt with the affidavits, information and photographs upon which their application for a search warrant of her chambers and reception area was based.

However, the court granted an interim order prohibiting police from accessing the computer records or information they seized pending finalisation of the application, which was adjourned to May 26.

In an affidavit Hunt vehemently denies any suggestion that she “ever attempted to install any listening device into anybody’s office”, but said she would deal more fully with the allegations at future “appropriate proceedings”.

Describing in his affidavit what led to the raid on Hunt’s chambers, Lt Col Johan Meeding of the Organised Crime Unit said on March 11 he conducted an interview with a (now former) staff member of Hunt’s who believed the offices of a Mrs van der Watt — the administrator of the Pietermaritzburg Society of Advocates — was bugged.

She had said that some weeks earlier two people from a private company dealing with closed circuit television (CCTV) installations arrived at the offices, claiming they were there at Hunt’s request in order to ascertain if her chambers had been bugged.

“One person walked round the room with a hand-held device attempting to pick up signals inside the applicant’s chambers, while the other entered the ceiling through the trap door situated outside the entrance to the reception area of the applicant (Hunt),” said Meeding.

“After he had been in the ceiling, he went into the applicant’s (Hunt’s) chambers from where he



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