Trial of armed forces officer who “spread” HIV postponed for the fourth time after lawyer failed to show up

The trial of the accused on a charge of attempted murder after he allegedly infected the victim with HIV while knowing he was infected and withheld and denied this fact, was today postponed for trial for the fourth time in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court to 3 March 2022. The trial should have started today, but the legal representative of the accused failed to show up, because he was allegedly in a motor vehicle collision this morning. He sent a colleague to court to apply for the postponement.

AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit has a watching brief in this case on behalf of the victim and her family. Both the accused and the plaintiff were members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) when the alleged offence was committed.

According to Natasha Venter, Advisor at AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit, it is unfortunate that the case had to be postponed today, once again due to the fault of the accused’s legal team. “The alleged crime took place in 2017 already, which means that the complainant has now been waiting for justice for five years.”

The case has already been postponed on three previous occasions because of the accused’s legal team – on the previous occasion the defence attorney was apparently unwell, but he has still not provided the court with a medical certificate to prove this. However, the court ruled today that this is the final postponement in this matter and that the trial would proceed on 3 March even if the accused had to manage his own defence. The attorney must also provide evidence of the collision and his subsequent medical examinations to court on this date.

“The court’s ruling is a step in the right direction, because we are of the opinion that firm action is needed from our courts to prevent the unreasonable delays in criminal cases. One of the biggest motives of the unreasonable delays of criminal cases is to frustrate victims to such an extent that prosecutions are abandoned. We therefore also want to compliment the prosecutor from the NPA for fiercely opposing the application for postponement and also for being ready to proceed with the trial today,” says Venter.

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