Court case against Bellville magistrate postponed until next year

AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit currently supports Verna Cloete, the plaintiff in the criminal case against Gerald Hattingh, a magistrate in the Bellville area. The case was postponed on 25 November 2020 to 10 and 11 February 2021 in the Bellville Magistrate’s Court after Cloete already testified – Cloete will also be cross-examined by Hattingh (who is representing himself) during this court appearance. The court had to adjourn early due to the fact that there was no water supply.

The case was already postponed in October since the previous presiding officer recused himself because he evidently knew the accused well. The magistrate acted correctly by recusing himself, but the situation could have been foreseen and should thus have been avoided. The case currently serves before magistrate Cassim.

In 2019 AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit became involved on behalf of Cloete after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) initially refused to prosecute. The NPA did an about-turn after the unit got involved and decided to indeed prosecute Hattingh on a complaint of reckless and negligent driving. The incident took place in 2011 when Hattingh’s vehicle struck Cloete and injured her to such a degree that she cannot follow her career as heavy vehicle driver.

According to Adv. Phyllis Vorster, Prosecutor at AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit, the unit was established to particularly address selective prosecutions. “We welcome the fact that this case now finally serves before the court and that the plaintiff had the opportunity to present her case. It is however a pity that the case had to be postponed again, considering that the plaintiff has been waiting for justice for almost a decade.”

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