Tuesday, January 27, 2009


After spending a couple of hours standing in for the early morning news editor this morning, C-for-Serious, my News Editor in Chief, decided that she would take over the putting together of the day’s diary and that I should accompany my colleague Diva to court.

The two of us were to continue working together on the forever and ever-ongoing trial of a high court judge charged with driving drunk and then crashing his Jag into the garden wall of a Joburg businessman. The story is exceedingly exciting for those who get to read it in short snatches in the paper, but not so much for those of us tasked with following the painfully slow court proceedings. Anyway, the owner of the garden wall is a guy whose job it is to secure digital data. On the advice of his lawyer, he undertook to record the alleged drunken ramblings of the accused while the metro cops tried to effect an arrest. The women, who tried to make the arrest, were allegedly sworn at and called some burly colleagues for backup – making for a somewhat colourful recording.

As the defence argued that the recordings were inadmissible while the prosecution disagreed, the sound bytes became the subject of a trial-within-a-trial.

The upshot is that the judge is now "the accused" and the recordings are hard evidence. Every aspect of the case has been examined and cross-examined in court. Experts have testified and days have been spent on issues like back-extrapolations to calculate blood-alcohol levels over time, the effects of smoking cigarettes while drinking and the difference in impact of a few toots on an empty stomach as opposed to a full one.

And so this morning sweet Diva and I ventured off to court for like the millionth time to once again file the latest in the saga of the judge in court. We were there on time, and found only Fabulous Shoes – a court reporter from another Joburg daily paper – ready and waiting in gleaming gold wedges. Nobody else.

We joined her and waited and waited. I finished a Sudoku puzzle and played Tetris on my phone. Fabulous Shoes regaled us with tales of an extremely fat female fraudster who had taken a dislike to her and had become particularly threatening, swearing at her and pushing her around.

Fabulous Shoes: “She saw me and yelled 'You b*tch. I hate what you've been writing about me. I'm gonna teach you a lesson. Then she starts commenting on my hair. It was before lunch and bunches of people were listening so I had to protect my dignity. So I said: ‘Well, you shoudn’t wear those white pants. Your cellulite is luminous.”

More people arrived and the accounts of Fabulous Shoes’s run-in with fat female fraudster were repeated as the growing collection of court reporters listened in horror.

FS: “One time she said ‘You just try and call your photographer to come and get a picture of me’. And I said ‘No. You hit the gym first. Then we’ll talk’.”

A general consensus was made that everyone would, in a show of journalistic solidarity, cover future court appearances of fat female fraudster and ensure that her fraudulent actions are even more widely read.

For two hours solid I sat on the hard wooden bench. Before anything happened C-for-Serious summoned me back – the last on-day edition deadline had passed and I could leave Diva to handle the case as it finally started.

I walked back to the office feeling irritated by the wasted time.

Then I saw a taxi driver almost ride over a scooter driver. The scooter driver yelled back at him, prompting the taxi driver to laugh arrogantly and flip him a sign. Then he spotted the Metro cop next to him. Too late! He got pulled over.

Ah – a Metro cop actually taking action AND a taxi driver having to explain himself.


Life can be sweet in the big city!

No comments:

Post a Comment