Magistrate takes a knock

2020-01-31 14:30
Magistrate Divesh Mootheram has lost his application to have his case discharged. PHOTO: MOEKETSI MAMANE

Magistrate Divesh Mootheram has lost his application to have his case discharged. PHOTO: MOEKETSI MAMANE

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Magistrate Divesh Mootheram’s application for a discharge in a case where he stands accused of making derogatory comments about his superior has been dismissed.

In handing down judgment, magistrate Eric Vellem said the evidence before court suggested Mootheram’s allegedly calling chief magistrate Mpho Evelyn Monyemore a “f****ng corrupt black b***h” had gone “viral from the lowest rung of workers to the top” at the court, and had “spilled outside to [Monyemore’s] family.”

Vellem disputed the crux of Mootheram’s application for a discharge, which argued Monyemore did not hear the words first-hand or that evidence did not indicate that anyone actually told her, saying: “It cannot be thought that [Monyemore] just got the information from the wind.”

But Mootheram’s advocate, Shane Matthews, told the court that he intends to launch a week-long defence, where he will call four magistrates to testify, including Mootheram himself. This has been set down for early August.

Mootheram’s application for discharge also claimed that two witnesses, Verushka Premrajh and Ashin Singh, who are also magistrates, were not credible witnesses.

This was based on apparent contradictions in evidence they gave. Mootheram had also accused Singh of using his time in the witness stand to launch personal attacks on himself and others.

Vellem said claims of witnesses contradicting themselves were “exaggerated” in Mootheram’s application, adding that witness credibility at this stage of proceedings played a “limited role”.

Vellem said credibility only played a role at this stage if a witness’s credibility was shown to be “destroyed”, which he believed was not the case in this matter.

He said that since Premrajh was related to Mootheram she would likely not make up evidence, and refuted “any insinuation that she thumb-sucked allegations”.

Vellem said discrepancies regarding where and when Mootheram actually made his comments were a non-issue. He said Mootheram had angrily said the words to Premrajh in the staff tearoom and then gone off and said the same thing in Singh’s office.

“[Mootheram] was still emotionally charged when he went to look for Singh and we know from Singh that he [Mootheram] later stormed into his office and the rest is history.

“It cannot be said that there is no nexus between the incidents in the tearoom and in Singh’s office.

“The charge [of crimen injuria on the charge sheet] does not specify where the words were uttered, it just says that it happened at the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court.

“For me, it’s neither here nor there whether one leg happened in the tearoom and another leg in Singh’s office.”

Vellem said evidence before court indicated that Monyemore heard about Mootheram’s alleged words because it went “viral” throughout the office. “I am not persuaded given the evidence before me that there is no prima facie case,” he said, and dismissed the application.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  magistrates
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