THE trial of South African nationals facing charges of stealing a generator worth $30 000 failed to kick off yesterday after they requested an Afrikaans interpreter saying their English was not good.
Lourens Botha and Lourens Botha (Jr) appeared before Gwanda magistrate Sheila Nazombe facing theft charges and the case was remanded to July 21.
Through their lawyer Kucaca Phulu of Phulu and Ncube Legal Practitioners, the two said they were struggling to follow court proceedings in English and said they would be more comfortable with Afrikaans translations.
Ironically, Botha (Sr) used English in another case where he was being charged with illegally working in Zimbabwe.
However, Phulu said the two were now facing a serious charge and wanted an Afrikaans interpreter so they could have a better understanding of proceedings.
State prosecutor Edward Ndlovu conceded it was the accused’s rights to have proceedings communicated in a language they are conversant with. Nazombe initially adjourned court saying she wanted to consult with the chief interpreter, but later granted the interim remand in her chambers.
If the State fails to acquire the services of a qualified Afrikaans interpreter locally, it may be forced to foot the expenses of bringing an interpreter from South Africa. South African businessman Frederick Wilhelm August Lutzkie, who crash-landed and buried his chopper at Doddieburn Farm in Gwanda and has subsequently fallen out with his partner, is lined up to testify against Botha.
According to court records, Lutzkie bought all shares from Endless Fun, a company which was owned by the Bothas, taking control of all mining equipment.
Part of the property was eventually sold to another mining company owned by Bronson Marcus David.
On October 10 2013, Botha and his son went to Gonda North Mine in Gwanda and allegedly misled one Laxin Ndlovu that they had borrowed a 165kv generator and a quirk bowl from David, and they were given the property.
David, who owns Peogoine Mine, went to the mine 12 days later and discovered that his property was missing. Ndlovu indicated that Botha and his son had taken the property and the matter was reported to police, leading to the arrest of the two.
In a signed affidavit, Lutzkie alleged Botha (Sr) had tried to coerce him into signing an affidavit indicating that he had given them the green light to take over the property. The property valued at $31 500 was recovered from the Botha family.