The Cape Town Magistrate’s Court has ordered an inquiry into delays in the case of murder-accused Guatemalan Diego Novella.
When Novella appeared in the court on Monday, Magistrate Grant Engel ruled that the defence could not yet have access to the docket because the investigation was not complete, his lawyer William Booth said on Tuesday.
“Then I argued that there has been an unreasonable delay,” Booth said.
The State’s case is that Novella assaulted and inflicted fatal injuries on 39-year-old US marketing executive Gabriela Kabrins Alban at the upmarket Camps Bay Retreat in July.
“Five months later, the State has waited to investigate certain telephone records and to get a statement from a witness. There are also some hiccups to get iPad and iPhone communications,” Booth said.
He pointed to the delay in admitting Novella to Valkenberg psychiatric hospital. He had to undergo a 30-day observation, but was 63rd on the waiting list for a bed.
Booth said the observation delay applied not only to his client, but to many others awaiting trial.
“Surely other arrangements can be put in place.”
Engel postponed the matter until January 21 2016 for a full inquiry in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act.
The court had to consider the length of the delay, the reasons behind it, if anyone could be blamed, its effect, and the seriousness of the charges, among other factors.
If it found that proceedings were being unreasonably delayed, it could grant a postponement with conditions, or issue an order to refuse any further postponements. Or the case could be struck off the roll.
Novella was being kept in the hospital section at Pollsmoor Prison for his safety.
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