Durban- The State has been ordered to pay the legal costs of retired KZN Judge President, Justice Chiman Patel and R900 000 for damages following his successful civil claim of malicious prosecution relating to a criminal case of crimen injuria which was later withdrawn against him.
Patel sued the State for an amount of R3 million in damages for the embarrassment brought by the criminal case and impairment of his dignity, reputation and humiliation.
Patel, a practising Hindu, had argued that the serving of a summons on October 22, 2014, which was during Diwali celebrations - one of the most auspicious occasions in the Hindu religion - was in his view intended to humiliate him.
Although the State had submitted that a reasonable cost should have been R200 000, Judge Aubrey Ledwaba found that R900 000 was a reasonable amount to be paid to Patel.
The lawsuit emanates from a 2013 incident at Judge Patel’s chambers where the plaintiff, a clerk at the court opened a crimen injuria case claiming against him, claiming that Patel had shouted at her and called her names including “nonsense, trash and rubbish".
Advocate Moipone Noko, the KwaZulu-Natal Director of Public Prosecutions who took the decision to prosecute Patel on the crimen injuria charge, was called to testify.
The clerk had testified in court that the words uttered by Patel did not have an impact on her dignity.
The prosecuting team had a meeting with Noko and informed her that she no longer regarded the alleged words uttered by plaintiff as having an impact on her dignity and that she wanted mediation to be held.
Ledwaba said he found that Noko was not a good witness. Ledwaba found that no meaningful attempts were made to pursue alternative dispute resolution methods and when Patel appeared in court on the criminal charge, he was not given an option to pay an admission of guilt fine.
“She did not in my view, execute the duties reasonably as expected. She gave long-winded and argumentative answers when she testified," Ledwaba said.