Whole Jude Ward trial 'tainted', defence argues

2011-02-15 00:00

HE charges laid against Camperdown motorist Jude Ward were clearly an afterthought by traffic officer Edward Mtshali after he was involved in an assault on her in the Camperdown police station and her whole trial was “tainted”.

There was also an “absolute lack of objective and impartial police investigation” in the case. The fact that the investigation was done by the police station whose members were under scrutiny for not assisting Ward with her complaint of assault may be an abuse of process and unconstitutional.

These submissions are contained in heads of argument presented to magistrate T.Z. Nkosi on Friday in support of an application for Ward’s discharge at the end of the state case. She is charged with inconsiderate driving, and two counts of failing to obey a traffic officer.

If the court grants the application it will mean Ward will effectively be acquitted without the defence having to lead any evidence.

Nkosi said he will give his ruling on February 25.

The submissions prepared by Ward’s advocate Christo van Schalkwyk SC were presented to the court on his behalf by attorney Karen Hattingh, who urged the court to find that Ward did not have a fair trial for a number of reasons.

These included the fact that the Director of Public Prosecutions decided to charge both Ward and Mtshali in the matter, and in doing so prevented the defence from properly cross examining Mtshali because he had a right not to answer questions that would incriminate him.

Another allegedly “worse” abuse was that Mtshali interfered in the investigation of the case by tracing the only other state witness led to support his allegations — Phillipe Denis — and personally approaching Denis to obtain an affidavit from him.

Mtshali subsequently also amended, corrected or amplified Denis’s affidavit and took it back to Denis to sign.

Van Schalkwyk described Mtshali as an “arrogant witness” who was argumentative and failed to reply to questions when it suited him, and said his evidence “bristled with improbabilities”.

The prosecution opposed the application.

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