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Durban - Lawyers acting for a Durban doctor and his wife accused of running a brothel, have disputed the authenticity of an affidavit by an investigating officer, which could deem evidence pertaining to the search at the Inn Town Lodge inadmissible.
Anand Nepaul, acting for uMhlanga doctor Genchen Rugnath, on trial with his wife, Ravina, and four others, on Wednesday pointed out several discrepancies between the commissioned statement and the affidavit the investigating officer, Warrant Officer Cyril Freese, said he presented to the chief magistrate to authorise the warrant.
The couple and their co-accused - Sandile Zweni, Nduduzo Dlamini and Bhabha Dubazani - have pleaded not guilty to more than 150 charges, including racketeering, human trafficking, rape and assault.
The Rugnaths own the Inn Town Lodge, in the Durban Point area, where some of the alleged offences took place.
The matter entered into a trial-within-a-trial this week to determine the admissibility of the search warrant executed by Freese on February 16 last year.
The defence argued the affidavit was created after the warrant was issued.
Nepaul yesterday told the court that the affidavit had not been included in the documents handed to him by the State.
The court had heard that Nepaul asked the State for the original affidavit and was told the State was still in the process of locating it and suggested that Nepaul attain a copy from Freese.
The copy obtained from Freese and the commissioned affidavit should be exactly the same save for the signature of the commissioner of oaths, Nepaul said and Freese conceded this.
Nepaul however told the court he found 14 differences between the documents.
Marked “Exhibit K” is the commissioned affidavit and “Exhibit N 8 and 9” is the one the defence obtained from Freese.
Nepaul said: “In Exhibit K paragraph four, line two, ends with the word ‘text’. Whereas in Exhibit N paragraph four, line two, ends with the word ‘who’.”
In the version that was not commissioned Nepaul pointed out to Freese foreign letters which he was unable to decipher. This unreadable text does not appear in the commissioned statement, he said.
Nepaul put it to Freese that the commissioned statement was manipulated.
“It seems there were some errors in the document and when rectified, the whole scope changed and jumped from one page to another. In a computer system pages jump when errors are rectified,” Freese said.
He did not dispute that he submitted both statements to the prosecution.
When asked about the different signatures on the documents, Freese said sometimes when he is in a hurry, he signs differently.
He said he signed “Exhibit K”, it was sent for rectification and when it came back, he signed again.
“The signatures are different but they are mine,” he said.
Nepaul argued that the commissioned statement was created after the search warrant was obtained and commissioned by Warrant Officer Bonginkosi Magwaza, who is the investigating officer in respect of a drug operation at Inn Town Lodge.
He said the affidavit was submitted to the prosecution under the pretext that it was the same one presented to the magistrate.
The trial continues.