Monday, March 23, 2009

The doctor and the trial that never was…

Maddening and frustrating is how I would describe the events that unfolded today.
Early this morning I was told that I needed to get out to the Hatfield Community Court in Pretoria to cover the first appearance of the Mayor’s daughter who had not only been bust with drugs by the cops on the weekend, but had managed to have assault charges added to the mix when she bit the policeman who arrested her.
So off I went after quickly downloading a map off the net. On the way I picked up a photographer from his home and we headed for Hatfield. As we neared Midrand the office called. Change of plan.
We were to abandon the druggie daughter story and head off to the magistrate’s court. There we were to chase up a dodgy doctor who apparently wrote up a medical report on Robert McBride. He claimed that the disgraced Ekhuruleni Metro police chief had, on the night he crashed his company car allegedly after over-indulging in a few too many Johnny Walkers at the traffic cops’ Christmas party, had not been drunk at the time. Investigators believe that the report drawn up by the kindly doctor, which stated that McBride was instead a tad befuddled due to hypoglycaemia, was utter hogwash. And today this man of medicine was to go on trial. Today!
We arrived at court and checked the roll. Nothing. So we went to the control prosecutor. She knew nothing and sent us off to office 13. We went there and they knew nothing. Half-an-hour had now passed.
So we went to the clerk of the court where I stood before the counter and was invisible. Nobody toiling away in the office looked up or even acknowledged my existence, let alone my anguished cries for assistance which were admittedly by now so hysterical and high-pitched that probably only the dogs in the greater Pretoria area could hear them.
Then the office responded to my frantic sms appeals for help – the trial, I was told, was going to happen in one of the court rooms on the third or fourth floor.
One by one we visited each courtroom and asked for the case. Nobody knew anything.
So we ventured back to the ground floor. By now it was after 9am and so I tried my luck again at the office of the clerk of the court. Either the job description of those manning the large office dictated that they absolutely not communicate with people coming to their front desk before 9am, or else I had suddenly become visible to them, but this time they spoke to me. And told me they knew nothing of the case and suggested I try the window next door where the appeal roll was kept.
So I did. And again, no joy. We were referred to office 91 where we spoke to more people and read more lists of cases - the closest hit being some other doctor arrested for swiping a phone.
So we walked some more, through the tunnel-like passages and underground mazes.
For two solid hours we tried to track down the illusive doctor-on-trial, with no hint of success. Eventually, as we sat cowering in the coffee shop, a radio news journo appeared looking extremely weary. We swopped stories and were gobsmacked to hear that we had in fact been to all the same places, checked out everything courtroom and read through every single roll. He had been as spectacularly unsuccessful as us.
So we decided to give it up and head back. We shall live to fight another day! As soon as I reached my desk I began phoning prosecutors linked to the McBride cases on the go. Again, no luck.
For now, it appears that the doctor and his trial have vanished from Pretoria. But he will be tracked. I am not giving up. The public has the right to know, and I shall continue my quest to be the bearer of this news!!


  1. Do you think someone was trying to distract you from the mayors daughter story?! I definitely think those humanoids at the magistrates court are only programmed to react after 9am. So frustrating!

  2. You have NO idea! Gets you feeling like smashing your head against the wall would be welcome relief.