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10 Feb 2003 11:31
Pietermaritzburg magistrate and former Scorpions investigator Ashwin Singh — who is due to go on trial for defeating the ends of justice — is considering conducting his own defence.
The charges arose from his work within the elite Scorpions unit and relate to him allegedly withholding vital information from justice and police officials investigating political violence in Richmond.
Singhâ€™s trial was repeatedly postponed last year to enable him to brief counsel, advocate Jennifer Wilde, who had been appointed by instructing attorney Narend Sangham.
However, on Thursday Singh said he had been informed that Wilde was withdrawing from the case. “As I donâ€™t know her reasons, she will have to come to court on Monday and explain,” he said.
“As you know, the trial is set down for 20 days and I am now considering conducting my own defence.”
Confirming her decision to withdraw, Wilde said: “I have no comment to make other than that I cannot continue.”
Among other things, Singh stands accused of interfering with detectives and prosecutors investigating the Ndabazitha massacre in Richmond on January 23 1999.
The state alleges that Singh acquired information in November 1999 that persons other than those charged with the Ndabazitha massacre had been involved, but failed to provide this information to investigators.
In liaising with the media about the case, Singh is also said to have provided sufficient details about an informer to enable him to be identified, thereby exposing him to risk.
The stateâ€™s key witnesses include the former KwaZulu-Natal Scorpions boss Chris MacAdam, as well as the Scorpionsâ€™s provincial director of special operations, Clifford Marion.
The state has also subpoenaed several journalists, including Mail & Guardian reporter Jaspreet Kindra.
Among those subpoenaed to testify in Singhâ€™s defence are Commissioner of Crime Intelligence Ray Lalla and National Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka.
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