Trial date set for McBride's doctor

A trial date for the doctor implicated in Robert McBride’s drunk-driving case has been set for next year.

Appearing in the Pretoria Regional Court on Friday, Doctor Joseph Morolong Moratioa had his case of allegedly defrauding the state postponed to March 23.

This followed arguments from the state and defence over the trial date.

State prosecutor Petronel du Plessis objected that the date was too far away, while the defence said it was the only date available for the four-member defence team.

Last Thursday, magistrate Peet van Vuuren ordered that a representative from both the Natal Law Society and the Provincial Bar Council appear before him on Friday.

They were due to explain why there had been delays. However, there was no representative from either party, and advocate Mornay Crouse appeared on behalf of Moratioa.

This was because McBride’s lawyers, who also represent the doctor, did not send anyone to represent him. Crouse later appeared on his behalf pro-bono.

Du Plessis said the defence must provide a guarantee that they would be in court next year.

She also argued that the defence could be trying to delay the case until the finalisation of the McBride case.

Van Vuuren said the defence must tell the state on January 23 2009 that they could proceed in March.

“I am unhappy about this situation,” said Van Vuuren as he set the matter down for trial.

On whether he would subpoena both the bar and the council, Van Vuuren said this was not necessary though there had been delays in the matter that could be seen as unreasonable.

The court also heard that the doctor had opened a case of intimidation against certain individuals who had been threatening him.

Moratioa is accused of defrauding the state, after he allegedly claimed to have examined McBride following the former police chief’s car accident in December 2006. - Sapa

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