Tempers flare as Singh tells of clash

2019-10-08 15:00
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Things got heated on Monday when senior magistrate Ashin Singh took the witness stand to testify against former friend and colleague, Divesh Mootheram, in the regional court.

Singh described how an “angry” Mootheram allegedly pushed him up against a wall during an argument and allegedly made a racist remark about the chief magistrate, Mpho Evelyn Monyemore.

Singh said that Mootheram had “stormed” into his office on April 11, 2017, and accosted him because he was allegedly unhappy that Singh had tasked Ronnie Sithalpersad, not an employee of the court, with filing documents in his office.

As tempers flared in court magistrate Eric Vellem had to on a few occasions calm Singh and Mootheram down.

Mootheram got out of his seat and tried to speak to his attorneys when Singh claimed to have copies of WhatsApp conversations in which Mootheram called his colleagues and family members “whores”.

Singh had with him a lever arch file packed with what he claimed were WhatsApp messages where Mootheram allegedly admitted to racially slandering Monyemore.

He also claimed to have lewd photographs of Mootheram, his wife, daughter and a journalist, which Mootheram was allegedly circulating.

Singh alleged Mootheram was “extremely agitated” when he accosted Singh about Sithalpersad being in his office, and claimed he was instructed by a fellow magistrate, Asha Dathoo, to do so. He said Mootheram believed Sithalpersad had access to “personal files”.

He then alleged Mootheram had raised the issue of “not being promoted” to senior magistrate of judicial quality assurance, a post Singh had been promoted to.

Singh then alleged he was pushed up against the wall by Mootheram and claimed he called Monyemore a “corrupt black b***h”. He claimed in his testimony that Mootheram had used slurs against Monyemore on many occasions.

“I pushed him out of my office and out the door, and I closed the door,” Singh said, adding that he refused to accept an apology from Mootheram.

Singh also testified that Mootheram and fellow magistrates P Joubert and Amanda Bezuidenhout formed a “cabal” against Monyemore because they refused to be rotated from civil court duties, as is the norm.

“I sent five different attorneys to him [Mootheram] to get him to speak to the chief magistrate [Monyemore] and apologise.

“During the argument he said we’re both corrupt and he’ll get rid of us,” Singh claimed.

Singh said the incident ruined some 30 years of friendship between him and Mootheram and said it was the “talk of the office”.

The case drew the interest of many attorneys and prosecutors who listened in.

Under cross examination by Mootheram’s advocate, Shane Matthews, Singh was asked why an “incident report” he drew up on June 13 that year did not go into detail about the alleged incident he was now testifying about.

Singh claimed, however, that he had no memory of an apparent e-mail from Monyemore which asked him to draw up the report. He conceded that claims about Mootheram in that report were “generalised” and said it was because Mootheram had allegedly slandered her often, and was not referring specifically to the April 11 incident.

Emotions ran high when during cross-examination, Singh made the claims about having WhatsApp messages of lewd photographs of Mootheram and people close to him.

Mootheram leapt off his chair and called out to Matthews when Singh alleged to have evidence of Mootheram calling colleagues and family members “whores”. Singh also chastised Matthews for raising his voice at him when Matthews became irritated that Singh was not directly answering his questions.

The trial continues on Tuesday but Singh’s evidence has been concluded.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  court case
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