Judge Motata called to explain court delay

Drunken driving accused Judge Nkola Motata was called upon to explain in court on Monday why his second set of lawyers had decided to withdraw from the case.

“I’m not in a position to disclose that. That remains privileged,” the Pretoria High Court judge told a visibly annoyed magistrate Desmond Nair.

Nair, who was forced to postpone for a second time an application for discharge, asked Motata directly: “What has led to this situation?”

This was after defence attorney Marinus van Jaarsveld declined to provide reasons for withdrawing from the case after he and his colleagues represented Motata for two years in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court.

Nair argued that the court needed to know the reasons for the withdrawal “in the interest of justice and open administration”.

“In the event that there is once again an application by the defence to withdraw, the court will out of necessity have to go back and examine the reasons for the withdrawal,” said Nair.

But Van Jaarsveld replied: “I don’t really want to go into the privileged information.”

State prosecutor Zaais van Zyl then suggested that Nair ask Motata directly.

“This is of course the third legal team [for Motata],” said Van Zyl.

Motata apologised to Nair for the umpteenth delay in the case which has been dragging on since he crashed his Jaguar into the perimeter wall of a house in Hurlingham, Johannesburg in January 2007, allegedly while drunk.

“I have the right to say I want a team of my choice. I’m sorry your worship, I understand your concerns,” said Motata.

“I have not wasted the court’s time,” he added.
“I have not come to the court and said, ‘Please, wait, I’m running around’.”

Motata said he had already appointed a new lawyer, Simeon Ngomane, who was at the hearing.

Motata said a termination of contract did not necessarily mean there was a “fight” with the lawyers.

“It’s some misunderstanding that may have occurred,” said Motata, who briefly shook hands with Van Jaarsveld at the end of the hearing.

Nair told Motata: “I would like to remind you, Mr Motata ... the duration of this trial is somewhat out of the ordinary.

“Justice delayed is justice denied, not only for yourself and the State, but also to the court.

“I will remind you, if the time arises, of this discussion today,” Nair warned the judge.

He granted the withdrawal and told the new lawyer that the case involved large amounts of paperwork.

“It’s voluminous… a very large number of lever arch files, that I can tell you now,” said Nair.

“The matter is postponed to April 24 for your new defence team to apply for your discharge,” he told Motata.

The court will hear the response from the State on May 7 and will make its ruling on June 2.—Sapa

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