Modise in high court bid to postpone animal cruelty trial after lockdown directive
Johannesburg - National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise has urgently approached the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Monday asking that it postpone a criminal trial against her for allegedly abusing animals.
The case is set down for trial on Tuesday in the Potchefstroom Magistrate’s Court.
Modise filed the urgent application notifying the court that the court was under a 21-day nationwide lockdown.
In her papers, Modise said: “President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on Monday, March 23 in which he declared a nationwide lockdown by virtue of the coronavirus which constitutes a pandemic and national disaster.”
She said her failure to appear in court on March 24 was due to the directive of the President and the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma who gazetted for a lockdown due to the seriousness of the virus.
“The coronavirus is a pandemic which threatens the country’s national security materially and substantially. As a matter of fact, the entire world is threatened by this severe pandemic,” Modise said.
In her application, Modise also included a directive from the Minister of Justice Ronald Lamola in which he instructed the judicial officers to postpone all criminal and civil trials until the end of April due to the virus.
Lamola’s directive has since been communicated to all court officials through the Judge President Dustan Mlambo who ordered all courts to postpone all criminal trials until April 28.
AfriForum who lodged the criminal trial against Modise has not indicated whether they would oppose the application.
But after her failure to appear, AfriForum’s head investigator Andrew Leask appeared angry about it.
At the time, Leask said the Magistrate wanted reasons, however, why Modise could not delegate her duties or communicate to the president that she had to appear in court on serious charges.
“Modise will have to explain on March 31 why she had been absent, after which the prosecution can hopefully commence. It is unacceptable for Modise not appearing in court today, and simply arguing that the reason for her absence is her office. No one is above the law, not even the Speaker of the National Assembly. AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit is looking forward to the commencement of the hearing on 31 March.
“Modise will eventually have to answer for this cruel case of animal abuse,” Leask said.
Even if AfriForum opposes Modise’s application - it is unlikely that the matter will be heard on Monday due to Lamola’s directives.