‘On a quest for dirt’

2016-01-27 10:32
Advocate Mergen Chetty.

Advocate Mergen Chetty. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - KZN advocate Mergen Chetty says he was so upset he “almost cried” after police found a tracking device on his car, allegedly planted there on the instructions of fellow advocate Penny Hunt.

Chetty was the second witness to testify before Judge Albert Kruger and Judge Connie Mocume in the case in which the Society of Advocates of KZN is applying to have Hunt removed from the roll of advocates for unethical conduct.

He described publicly for the first time the assault on him by Hunt’s husband, Cameron Hunt, SC, in 2010, which allegedly caused Hunt to want to “get some dirt” on Chetty.

Chetty said Penny Hunt came up to him and poured a glass of liquid which he “presumed was alcohol” over his head.

“I swore at her ... I asked her why she had done this and I told her never to do something like this again.

“The next thing I knew I was on the floor and several advocates were standing over me trying to get me up. I was told that I was assaulted by the respondent’s (Penny Hunt’s) husband Cameron.”

Chetty said he had a swelling on his chin and his mouth and there was “a lot of commotion and people shouting” at Cameron Hunt.

His wife, who came to fetch him from the function, took him to hospital.

Under cross examination he agreed that when he came to, his head was “in Penny Hunt’s lap” and that she was making sure that he was okay.

Chetty told the court that before the incident he “didn’t have an issue” with either of the Hunts and said he had fully expected Cameron Hunt to apologise to him.

“I accept it was a rush of anger … I waited for him to call and say he was sorry, but that just didn’t happen.”

When he received a “dirty stare” instead of an apology from Cameron Hunt, he decided to lay a charge.

However, under cross examination Chetty agreed that the staring incident might in fact have happened on a day when he had already laid a charge, and the investigating officer arrived at chambers to take a statement from Hunt.

Chetty confirmed that his attitude thereafter was that he was not interested in a reconciliation.

Cameron Hunt was prosecuted criminally, resulting in a plea agreement on July 14, 2011. He was cautioned and discharged, and paid Chetty damages of R65 000.

However, the disciplinary proceedings contemplated by the Bar against him remained unresolved for some time.

Chetty confirmed that police came to see him at chambers some time after another function in October 2010.

He said the officers asked him to point out his car in the parking lot. When Colonel Johan Meeding checked under the rear of his car, he said in Afrikaans: “Meneer, hy’s hier (Mister, it’s here).”

There was a “triangular device” wrapped in masking tape on the car.

Chetty said the police explained to him that while questioning Houston Wayne Impey regarding the removal of the CCTV hard drive from the advocates’ chambers, Impey had admitted to putting a tracking device on Chetty’s car on Penny Hunt’s instructions, to “get dirt” on Chetty.

“I was very, very upset and shocked … I was almost crying,” said Chetty.

Impey — who began testifying on Monday — was temporarily excused late yesterday, but will be recalled for further cross examination by arrangement.

During cross examination on Tuesday, Hodes said Penny Hunt would deny his evidence that she instructed him to plant a bug in the ceiling of the advocates’ chambers.

But Impey said this would be a lie.

Hodes said Hunt claims she called Impey on the night of October 29, 2010 asking him to get her the footage from between 21:50 and 22:06 that night.

This was because her secretary had told her that Chetty left another bar function that night “in an inebriated state”.

She wanted the footage to be “burned on a CD”, said Hodes.

Impey confirmed that Hunt called him that night, but said she told him she wanted “all the footage” and that he explained to her that he would have to remove the entire hard drive and replace it, if she wanted to “view it at leisure”.

The case is proceeding.

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