Magistrate Divesh Mootheram’s legal team has hit back at three fellow magistrates who testified that he had made derogatory comments about the chief magistrate, in a lengthy application for a discharge.
Mootheram is facing a charge of crimen injuria for allegedly making comments about chief magistrate Mpho Evelyn Monyemore.
Advocate Shane Matthews on Wednesday argued before out-of-town magistrate Eric Vellem that no state witness has thus far shown that Monyemore was present when the words were said or had even heard about it afterwards.
At the heart of the application is that a state witness, G. Narayansamy, who Monyemore claimed had heard Mootheram say the alleged words, was eventually not called to give evidence by the state because his evidence would not corroborate what Monyemore claimed.
Matthews said Monyemore had therefore testified only about a “hearsay statement”.
Matthews also questioned why two witnesses, Variksha Premrajh and Ashin Singh, failed to tell Monyemore that Mootheram had called her a “f*****g corrupt black b***h” despite each of them claiming to have heard him say that on two different occasions.
He said Premrajh had “clearly tailored evidence to suit the situation” in her testimony because she had allegedly contradicted her statement when giving evidence in court.
Matthews said Premrajh had claimed before court that Mootheram made the comment about Monyemore in front of Premrajh in a passage near the toilets in court, but in her statement she alleged that she had heard Mootheram make that comment in a tearoom and a secretary’s office.
Matthews alleged Premrajh was also unable to explain why no other magistrate had heard what Mootheram is alleged to have said if he said it in the tearoom.
Matthews labelled Singh an “appalling witness” who used his time on the witness stand to “introduce inadmissible evidence solely aimed at destroying the dignity” of Mootheram, his wife, and a Witness reporter.
This was in relation to Singh claiming to have lewd photographs of Mootheram, his wife, and the reporter, as The Witness reported previously.
Singh “clearly used the incident to launch an attack on some of his fellow magistrates”, Matthews claimed, adding that even state advocate Andre Ludick had to rein Singh in during his testimony.
But Ludick argued that Mootheram had “clearly” attempted to insult Monyemore by his alleged statement, and it did not matter whether Monyemore had heard Mootheram say it.
Ludick said Monyemore had testified that she had heard office gossip that Mootheram had said those words and began asking around and two people — Singh and Premrajh — allegedly confirmed that he had.
Ludick invoked the infamous Vicki Momberg case, where a woman was jailed for crimen injuria after she called a black police officer the k-word 48 times, and said the charge was more about the seriousness of the alleged words rather than whether Monyemore heard them first-hand.
He said Mootheram’s alleged use of “the f-word was clearly an attempt to insult” Monyemore and allegedly calling her “corrupt” was defamatory.
He said calling Monyemore a “black b***h” was racist and sexist and was offensive to all black people, just like Momberg’s words were.
He said Premrajh and Singh testified that Mootheram was angry when he said those alleged words and “could on the balance of probability have said something he may today regret”.
But Matthews said in the Momberg case there were witnesses who corroborated what Momberg said, apparently unlike in this case.
Judgment on the application is expected on Thursday.