Durban - A trial in which senior Durban advocate Mayakisten “Mike” Govindasamy is facing charges of raping and indecently assaulting a teenager got off to an acrimonious start on Monday when his lawyers tried to introduce documents alleging the complainant had a personality disorder and was known to have been deceitful since childhood.
The attempt by advocate Murray Pitman to submit annexures, including a psychiatric report and documents from the complainant’s Facebook site, was labelled “an attempt to colour the court’s mind before hearing her evidence” by State advocate Dorian Paver. “This is untenable,” he said.
File phot. Credit: Independent Newspapers
Govindasamy, 57, a senior counsel at the Durban Bar who has acted as a judge, pleaded not guilty before Durban High Court Judge Fikile Mokgohloa to charges that he indecently assaulted the girl in 2007 when she was about 17 and raped her in 2010 when she was 19.
According to the indictment, on both occasions she had stayed overnight at Govindasamy’s Effingham Heights home. The indecent assault allegedly occurred while she slept between Govindasamy and his wife. The rape allegedly occurred while she slept on a mattress in their bedroom.
The State was expected to call the woman to begin her testimony on Monday, but this was delayed because of a dispute between the defence and the State over the content of weighty documents Pitman wanted to submit in explanation of his client’s denial of the charges.
Before Pitman could read it into the record, Paver was on his feet objecting that he was attempting to introduce hearsay evidence.
Pitman said it was merely setting out the basis of the defence and he would call witnesses about the allegations that the complainant had a personality disorder “which has the effect of regular – since childhood – deceit”.
Judge Mokgohloa tended to agree with Paver and said she would not admit hearsay evidence.
Putting up documents at this point of the trial which had not been authored by the accused was going too far, she said.
“I have never seen this before… perhaps I am inexperienced, but for all my years as a lawyer, as a magistrate and now as a judge, I have never seen this,” she said.
The judge stood the matter down and asked to see Pitman and Paver in chambers. When the case was recalled, she adjourned it until Tuesday morning when the issue will be argued and the judge will make a final ruling.