Mootheram in court

Divesh Mootheram trial starts, regional court 3.Photo.Moeketsi Mamane
Divesh Mootheram trial starts, regional court 3.Photo.Moeketsi Mamane

Pietermaritzburg magistrate Divesh Mootheram on Monday pleaded not guilty in the Pietermaritzburg regional court to a charge of crimen injuria. 

He is alleged to have “injured, insulted and impaired” the dignity of the chief magistrate, Mpho Evelyn Monyemore, on April 11, 2017.

It is alleged he said he “will get rid of the corrupt black b***h” and/or “f***en black b***h” and/or “f***en corrupt black b***h”.

Magistrate Variksha Premrajh was first to take the stand. She told the court that at 11 am on the day, she went into the magistrates’ tea room and as she entered she saw Mootheram and other magistrates.

“He indicated he was upset about people from outside being allowed into the building, having access to the magistrates’ files … he was discussing the issue of people being allowed access to private information. He was upset, he was using vulgar language,” she said.

Premrajh said he “mentioned corruption and the chief and [magistrate Ashin Singh] being corrupt”.

They both then walked down the passage towards the bathroom. Mootheram, she said, was still very upset.

“He said the chief magistrate is a corrupt black b***h”.

They then walked into the chief magistrate’s secretary’s office. Afterwards, Premrajh went into her office.

She was asked by advocate Shane Matthews why her statement said that Mootheram’s utterances about the chief happened in the secretary’s office. Premrajh denied this, saying that’s what Matthews infers from her statement. She never said where the words were uttered.

Matthews accused her of changing her statement because she is aware that the secretary, who is named “Goliath”, did not mention hearing the vulgar language.

Matthews questioned her about belonging to the South African Minority Rights Equality Movement (Samrem), but she said she was not a member of it. She was then asked about her laying a charge against Julius Malema at the Mountain Rise police station. She said she was merely present. She also confirmed that two other magistrates, Singh and a Bob Narainasamy, were present.

Matthews questioned her about how just the three of them were witnesses in Mootheram’s case, but she said it was a coincidence. Premrajh was also asked why she did nothing about Mootheram’s allegedly racist remark until making a statement on May 30, while she was quick to charge Malema.

Premrajh was asked about what her family does and she said her father is the owner of New Home Furnishers. She was then asked if she was aware that the chief magistrate purchased furniture from her family business. She said she was not.

Matthews said the reason why the charge was laid against Mootheram was because he complained to the Magistrates Commission about various matters, including Premrajh’s appointment and the “breach of security” that gave rise to this incident.

She said she was not aware of this.

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