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drama in 'pants' trial

By unknown | Mar 12, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

The trial against four men accused of assaulting a woman for wearing pants at Umlazi T-section in Durban will go ahead today after a request for a postponement was turned down in the Umlazi magistrate's court yesterday.

The accused, Thulani Cele, Sibusiso Cele, Wiseman Mzotho, and Zitha Nzuza sat quietly when their request for postponement until next week was rejected by magistrate Louis Radys.

He said the accused were aware that the trial had been set down for yesterday and today.

The accused came to court alone after they had fired their lawyer Abdul Karrim. They have hired Laurence de Klerk, who did not turn up in court yesterday.

The first accused, Thulani Cele, who spoke on behalf of his co-accused, told the court that De Klerk had promised to be in court today.

The court took a short break to allow the accused to locate their lawyer.

Cele then informed the court that De Klerk was in Esikhawini on the north coast and could not come to court.

He asked the court to give them until next week so that they can collect their files from Karrim and hand them to De Klerk.

Zandile Mpanza's legal representative, Advocate Pushpa Naidu, said the matter was referred to the equality court so that it could be speedily dealt with.

"The accused are employing delaying tactics.

"And our client has suffered for a long time and other women in the area are suffering from this 'pants ban', she said.

"And this situation will continue if the matter is postponed."

Naidu said the accused should pay all the expenses for her client and legal fees as the matter was adjourned on the first day of the trial.

Magistrate Radys agreed with Naidu, saying the court was not satisfied with the reasons the accused gave for a postponement.

"It appears that they have never been honest in court. They had indicated that their lawyer was coming to court but he was going to be late.

"This matter has been lingering for a long time. It appears the accused's previous lawyer withdrew after the community's unhappiness," he said.

Radys instructed the accused to inform their lawyer to be in court today as the trial would continue.

The four men are accused of assaulting Mpanza, ripping off her clothes and forcing her to parade naked at a men's hostel in July last year.

The gallery was packed with residents from T-section who mingled with gender activists. The front row of the public gallery was filled with Mpanza's relatives, including her mother.


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