Victim files civil claim against acting judge involved in alleged road rage incident

Three months after Conrad Pretorius was allegedly stabbed in the neck and leg by an acting judge and practicing advocate, he has filed a damages claim at the Pretoria High Court. This claim relates to an incident on 1 August that was widely reported on. The papers were served on Adv. Roeloff du Plessis who has not yet replied to the allegations.

Pretorius is inexplicably the accused in a criminal matter related to the same incident that was opened by Du Plessis. Pretorius appeared again in the Hatfield Magistrates Court on Tuesday, 7 November where the matter was postponed to 11 January next year for further investigations. AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit has been instructed to act as a watching brief in the criminal matter.

On 1 August, Pretorius and his wife were driving in Menlo Park when they encountered the advocate at an intersection where the traffic lights were not working. It is alleged that an altercation ensued which resulted in Du Plessis chasing Pretorius through the streets of the suburb for about five kilometres before blocking him in a cul-de-sac. It is further alleged that Pretorius and Du Plessis alighted from their vehicles where a confrontation occurred. Pretorius alleges that Du Plessis stabbed him in the neck with a sharp object, whereafter a struggle ensued, and he was also stabbed in his leg. Pretorius managed to get back in his car and drove to the nearest hospital for treatment.

Pretorius was hospitalised and discharged almost a week later. While in hospital he filed a criminal complaint of attempted murder against Du Plessis, but soon discovered that the advocate had filed a criminal complaint against him.

The Private Prosecution Unit made representations to the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) in Gauteng, stating that the decision to prosecute Pretorius, the victim, and not Du Plessis was irrational. The unit further stated its concerns that the decision suggested that a potential accused was being shielded from prosecution due to their status within the legal fraternity.

In a letter to the unit, the NPA said there was no reason to interfere with the decision of the senior prosecutor at the Hatfield Court and that case against Pretorius must continue. “Given the conflicting versions in the two case dockets, possible prosecution in respect of (the case against Du Plessis) will be considered by this office after finalisation of the trial against your client. This office is satisfied that the prosecutors were unaware of the status of Mr. Roelof Du Plessis when they took the decision and that it did not play any role.”

The unit maintains the view that the decision to prosecute Pretorius and not Du Plessis was irrational. The unit informed the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that it will now approach the National Director of Public Prosecutions to review the decision. It was stressed that the DPP irrationally disregarded evidence that Du Plessis chased after Pretorius for about five kilometres before cornering him in a cul-de-sac. It was further stated that the DPP’s decision was premature because the Senior Public Prosecutor at the Hatfield Magistrates Court instructed the police to conduct further investigations.

Barry Bateman, spokesperson for the unit, said: “It is not uncommon for counter charges to be filed in criminal matters in an effort to frustrate the course of justice. We see it far too often that a suspect in one matter files a criminal complaint against the complainant. This is why we have emphasised the importance of the NPA taking into account all the evidence in this matter in order to make a rational and just decision.”

If the state further declines to pursue the matter, a private prosecution will be considered. 

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