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Durban - The lawyer defending the young driver involved in the truck accident that killed 22 people on Field’s Hill has been hired by the truck owner but, the lawyer says, this is unlikely to be a conflict of interest.
Sanele May was represented by attorney Theasen Pillay during his first appearance at the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court on Monday, at the instruction of May’s employer, Gregory Govender.
But questions are being asked about what will happen if Govender is also charged, alongside May, at a later date if the truck is found to be unroadworthy.
“It would be problematic, but only if it comes to the point where Govender is charged and the two blame each other,” said Pillay.
“At the moment this is not the case. The media and the public opinion is different to what we know.”
Pillay said he had been hired by Govender, who did not want the 23-year-old Swaziland national “left in the lurch” during the investigation and trial.
KwaZulu-Natal Law Society president Richard Scott said one couldn’t jump to conclusions in cases like this, and he did not see it as a conflict of interest.
“Sometimes an employer wants to assist his employee… and he is going to need legal assistance,” said Scott. “If the owner of the truck is charged, it may become a conflict of interest, as there may be conflicting or divergent views on what happened.”
Scott said any statements made on behalf of the accused by his lawyer would need to be verified by the magistrate, and May would have a chance to tell his version during the trial.
Away from the trial and its role-players, the political war of words between the DA and ANC continued on Tuesday, with the provincial branch of the ruling party weighing in.
The DA originally released two statements after the accident, calling for action to be taken against Transport MEC Willies Mchunu.
“The call by the DA for Willies Mchunu to resign is shocking and embarrassing, and the ANC condemns it in the strongest possible terms,” it said.