Judge dismisses complaint about trial in prison
An awaiting trial prisoner and accused murderer’s application to have his trial heard at the Western Cape High Court instead of the Pollsmoor Circuit Court has failed, says a Cape Times report.
Mikyle Davids, who faces a string of charges, including murder, offences relating to criminal gang activity, the possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition, and robbery with aggravating circumstances, argued that the Pollsmoor Circuit Court where his trial is set to be heard ‘does not have the look and the feel of a proper High Court’ and violates his ‘presumption of innocence’.
Davids is one of seven co-accused in custody awaiting trial at Pollsmoor Prison.
Judge Taswell Papier's judgment notes: ‘According to (Davids), he is offended by his case having to be tried in the Pollsmoor Circuit Court because this court is situated on prison grounds and is part of the prison building; it is not a structure that stands alone or apart from the prison structure. (Davids’ counsel) Bashier Sibda contended that even if a separate free-standing court was built within the Pollsmoor Prison precinct, Davids would still have a problem in having his matter tried within this precinct as this correctional centre has a bad reputation, has world-wide notoriety, and the stigma attached to this prison will rub over onto the court hearing the trial. … Sibda contended that the internal physical configuration and design of this court creates the impression that Davids is a dangerous person against whom the court and legal representatives must be protected.'
Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Tommy Bunguzana said that placing trials on the roll was constrained by the availability of court rooms to accommodate cases involving multiple accused, notes the Cape Times.
‘All the courtrooms in the Cape High Court are too small to accommodate multiple accused, save for court one in which there is currently a trial in session involving twenty accused.'
Papier said although the circuit court is located within the prison grounds, it must be stressed that Davids will not be tried by prison officials, but by an independent judge in an open court with a court staff (registrar; stenographer and interpreter/s where required) and SAPS officials (court orderlies) in attendance.
'The court is only housed in a building which is situated within a prison precinct… any stigma that may attach to Pollsmoor correctional facility has no impact, influence or effect whatsoever on the hearing of the matter, and the judicial process as a whole,’ Papier found.
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