Investigating officer collapses in wife killer trial

2015-05-07 14:55

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Polokwane - The investigating officer in the bail application of a Limpopo businessman who is accused of killing his wife collapsed in court on Thursday.

Constable David Nkuna told the court at the bail application hearing in the Polokwane Magistrate's Court that he was not psychologically and emotionally fit to proceed with his cross-examination.

Nkuna collapsed after Magistrate Mohamed Shaik ruled against the State's application to have him recused.

Rameez Patel has launched a bid to be released on bail after he was arrested last month in connection with the murder of his wife, Fatima Patel. Fatima was found dead at the couple's house in Nirvana, a suburb in Polokwane.

It is alleged that Fatima was brutally assaulted, and her husband has not handed over the clothes he wore on that day.

Nkuna was due to testify on Thursday, but after he took the witness stand, he told the court he had been forced to come and testify. This despite having had an agreement with the court that he would not be available because he was preparing for exams.

Not physically sick

“I was forcefully summoned, receiving endless calls while I had explained that I am preparing for examinations, something that we had agreed during the previous postponement.

"I am disturbed, the court should be merciful and give me the date that all parties will be ready to continue, at this point I am not ready, psychologically and emotionally,” he said

However, he admitted that he was not physically sick.

But defence lawyer Stephanie Fourie argued there was no evidence that he could not continue testifying, because “we all have psychological issues, there is no evidence to make it impossible to continue”.

Prosecutor Mark Von Dronik did not want him to continue testifying.

“I cannot allow him to continue. He has already placed on record that he is not ready, he is emotionally and psychologically unfit. What we have before the court is an application by the witness,” said Von Dronik.

Witness collapses

Magistrate Shaik ruled that Nkuna shoul take medication and then testify.

"The court sympathises with the witness," said Shaik, adding he should take a ten-minute break.

But then Nkuna collapsed, and the court was forced to adjourn.

An hour later, the bail application continued without the investigating officer.

The drama set off another legal wrangle as the State applied to have the matter postponed to allow Nkuna enough time to recover.

But Fourie objected and said her client's rights were being violated as he had been in custody for too long.

“It cannot be in the interest of justice if the hearing can further be delayed, the applicant is a human, faced with state machinery and must be released on bail speedily,” she said.

Fourie further suggested that the investigating officer be replaced to allow the proceedings to continue without delay.

According to a post-mortem report, Fatima was brutally beaten, strangled and had her jaw broken during the attack.

It also emerged that Fatima’s body was buried more than 180km away from the couple’s home.

The hearing continues.  

Read more on:    polokwane  |  crime

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