A matter of memory at Motata drunken-driving trial

Pretoria High Court Judge Nkola Motata’s drunken-driving trial was on Wednesday characterised by inconsistencies, with a witness under cross-examination frequently stating that he had forgotten most of the statements he made in court last week.

This agitated even magistrate Desmond Nair, who on two occasions adjourned the trial and summoned both the defence team and the prosecution to his chambers.

Some of the things metro police officer Moatlhodi Daniel Madibo (46) told the court he forgot related to circumstances surrounding Motata’s arrest on January 6 2007.

Madibo was one of the officers at the scene of the accident in which Motata crashed his Jaguar into the perimeter wall of a Hurlingham, Johannesburg, property while allegedly under the influence of alcohol.

“I can’t remember who between me and the other officer handcuffed him ... but he was handcuffed,” Madibo said.

When defence attorney Danie Dorfling put it to him that he had stated in court that he was the one who had handcuffed Motata, Madibo said: “If that’s what I said, then you can take my previous statement.”

Pressed to clarify the time at which he had arrived at the scene and to indicate if the judge was read his rights during arrest, Madibo continued to claim amnesia.

“I don’t remember ... I think you should check my statement because there is nothing more I can say,” Madibo said.

A visibly irritated Nair then put it to Madibo that a medical examination report from a psychiatrist who examined him indicated that while his memory was affected by a December 2007 accident in which he had been involved, he had not suffered total memory loss.

“The view expressed herein isn’t that you have a total memory lapse.
It specifically states your memory was affected in certain aspects ... so please answer the questions to the best that you can,” Nair said.

The medical report in question was provisionally accepted by the court on Wednesday morning after the state requested the doctor who recently examined Madibo to fax it a copy of the report.

Madibo had earlier submitted a medical certificate he acquired in January this year, saying he could not produce the recent one as the doctor could only make it available on Wednesday morning. He said he could therefore not collect it as that would have made him late for the court hearing.

The court had asked him during last week’s appearance to go for a second medical examination in order to “better understand to what extent your memory has been affected”, because he said he suffered memory loss.

During proceedings on Wednesday, Madibo’s head shook involuntarily and he kept his eyes down, only looking up when asked questions by either Dorfling or the judge.

Dorfling was expected to continue cross-examining him on Thursday morning.—Sapa

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