High Court Judge Isaac Lesetedi on Friday struck off his records an urgent application by Unity Dow, representing Bakgatla royal family and their fellow accused tribesmen, insisting the process employed by Dow was unprocedural.
Concerned about her clients’ condition in jail, Unity Dow filed a bail application with the High Court, appealing that the decision by the Village Magistrate Court on Wednesday be revoked.
Dow, however, failed to produce relevant documents and records of the case proceedings before the presiding judge.
Alone in the dock Wednesday afternoon, following the disappearance of his thirteen co-accused, Sekai Linchwe was dragged to prison on a fourteen-day remand warrant, prompting the defence lawyer to rush to the High Court to nullify the remand warrant but without following proper procedures.
Lesetedi maintained that he would not entertain the application by the appellants, saying that (the absent) authentic and relevant documents and records of the case were pivotal in his making of an informed decision.
“Without the relevant records and documents before me and the respondent and the appellant herself, this court would be making a grievous mistake that would be hard to remedy. These records are important to the Court in correcting my own opinion and the ruling,” he argued, adding that “to go on such a route would be a great miscarriage of justice”.
He would not set another hearing, and advised Dow to freshly register the application with the Registrar who would allocate the application to other judges.
“With this, I mean I will not proceed with the application the next time as it is the duty of the Registrar to allocate the application to other judicial officers. This automatically means that I have struck the application off my records,” Lesetedi said to Dow, who had believed Lesetedi would be presiding over the case.
Besides the absence of the documents and records, another point of contention the court identified included the absence of the appellant ÔÇôLinchwe- whose presence the state prosecutor, Matlhogonolo Phuthego, indicated was essential for proper judicial proceedings.
“For a criminal case like this one, the presence of the appellant is crucial,” Phuthego said.
Meanwhile, Kgafela and his co-accused, who had vanished during a break in proceedings the day before, handed themselves to police.