Further, the team of senior prosecutors who investigated the matter discovered the woman “suddenly” felt that her dignity was not impaired by the use of the word “rubbish” – the central plank of her accusation against Patel.
This is according to the evidence of advocate Moipone Noko, the provincial director of Public Prosecutions, on Tuesday during the R3 million high court civil suit Patel lodged when the charges against him were withdrawn.
Court clerk Lindiwe Nxele opened a case against Patel after an incident at his office where Patel allegedly called her derogatory names.
In her police statement, she claimed Patel had impaired her dignity by calling her “nonsense, rubbish, trash and useless”.
Noko told the court that she had made the decision to prosecute Patel based on the evidence contained in the docket. She said she personally appointed the team of senior and chief prosecutors to deal with the “high-profile” case.
She said the prosecutors consulted with the witnesses and the complainant twice before the scheduled trial date in December 2014.
But a day before the trial was expected to start, the State withdrew the charges against Patel.
She said Nxele had changed her mind about whether her dignity had been impaired by the use of the word “rubbish”.
“She was now feeling okay about everything. She changed her mind. Actually, she kept changing her version and one of the witnesses suddenly could not remember certain things. We decided to withdraw the charges,” Noko testified.
“They (the team of prosecutors) recommended that the case be withdrawn and that going further with the matter would be malicious prosecution against Patel. I agreed with the prosecutors because of the new developments,” she said.
She said although her initial decision to prosecute was based on the allegation of the offensive words uttered, she had informed the then national director of Public Prosecutions, Mxolisi Nxasana, about the new developments and they both decided to withdraw the charges.
This week Nxele repeatedly told the court that she was still “hurting”, and appeared to be upset on the witness stand when she gave an account of the events that happened that day and the words allegedly uttered by Patel in his office.
Nxele had told the court that the matter would not have taken the direction of a criminal case if Patel had apologised to her.
She also said the mediation process was not fully explained to her because she was under the impression that she would not be present when they met Patel.
Noko said she had chosen to deal with the case personally and had consulted with Nxele and explained all the options that were available for her to find justice, including the mediation process where she would get to sit down with Patel in an attempt to find common ground before taking the court route – which she said Nxele refused.
“She did not co-operate with the mediation option, and she was under the impression that if the matter went to court she would find justice,” said Noko.