d-day for judge motata

Dudu Busani

Dudu Busani

It's D-Day for Pretoria high court judge Nkola Motata. He will know today whether pictures taken and recordings made on the day he drove into a house will be admissible in his drunken driving case.

During closing arguments yesterday, Motata's defence counsel Danie Dorfling lashed out at Richard Baird, the businessman who allegedly took pictures and recorded conversations after the accident, saying he was being painted as an innocent victim when in fact he had a possible motive or bias.

Baird is a liar, is unreliable and had an axe to grind with the judge, the Johannesburg magistrate's court heard yesterday.

Baird's pictures and recordings are the subject of a trial within a trial in which their authenticity is being questioned by Motata's defence.

"Baird clearly had an axe to grind with the accused," Dorfling said. "Other bystanders on the scene were hoping Baird would settle the matter amicably. What this court learnt during cross-examination is that Baird had already sold the 'scoop' to The Times newspaper."

He said it took Baird another day and a half before he laid a criminal charge.

"He had gone through the trouble of taking his story to the press, supplying them with copies of the audio recording and even copies of the photographs. It is submitted that these facts clearly demonstrate Baird's bias," he said.

Baird was also described as untruthful and evasive during his testimony and that his evidence was tainted with improbabilities and inaccuracies.

"Baird testified that nobody other than himself has access to his computer," Dorfling said. "On being further cross-examined Baird conceded that his wife works on the computer and his children also utilise the computer in his presence.

"The facts clearly demonstrate his untruthfulness."

But the state argues that the accuracy of the recordings stands unassailed and not a single word has been questioned and no evidence as to the accuracy of the recordings have been questioned.

"Motata chose not to take the stand to point out any alleged inaccuracy in the recordings," said prosecutor Zaais van Zyl.

"The recordings are accurate, they are real evidence."

The argument is that the recorded material, which was recorded by cellphone, then transferred into a digital camera and is now stored in a laptop computer, could easily have been manipulated and should not be used as admissible evidence in the trial. The trial continues.