Oscar Pistorius "expert" turns legal aid down
Alleged fake lawyer Brenda Wardle, who regularly provided legal analysis for prominent news organisations for years, was on Thursday adamant she would conduct her own defence in her fraud trial involving more than half a million rand.
Not only will Wardle prepare her own papers for trial, she told Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court that also wants to conduct her own defence at her intended bail appeal. She rejected advice from the state prosecutor suggesting she use legal aid.
Magistrate Lionel Lindoor even pointed out to Wardle that she could use judicare, a system where an independent attorney could be appointed for her case.
“My suggestion … don’t you want assistance from judicare to assist you with the bail appeal, for that process to go more speedily?” asked Lindoor.
Wardle shot to fame during the highly publicised murder trial of Paralympian Oscar Pistorius. She appeared on the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) television, as a legal analyst.
The 56-year old is also facing charges related to pretending to be a lawyer and offering “services” to a convicted murder. The State alleges that during April 2009 and August 2013, Wardle was paid R538,766 to assist jailed Stephanus van Aardt, who was requesting early release on parole.
The State alleges that Wardle pretended to be an attorney, but she failed to bring an application for Van Aardt’s early release.
Van Aardt, an Eastern Cape dairy farmer in Somerset East, who was convicted of murder in 2007 and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for the assault and death of 15-year-old Eliot Magabane, was as a result not eligible to have his term of imprisonment converted.
The so-called legal analyst and author was arrested in East London earlier in June after evading court for more than a year. She was subsequently denied bail earlier this month.
During court proceedings on Thursday, Wardle indicated that she intended to plead not guilty to the charges against her. She said the charges she faced did not exist. There is “no such case”, she said.
Wardle also complained that she was not getting the correct medication at the Rooi Hell prison, where she is being detained. The accused said her rights were being infringed.
“I want to prepare my own papers, within seven days I will be able to proceed with my bail appeal, I wasn’t suggesting the trial be delayed. I am confident I will succeed,” said Wardle.
“I am not at a later stage going to say I want legal representation. I am not later going to say I can’t continue because of the prison conditions … I want to ensure that this matter is disposed off. I know I can deal with this matter,” said Wardle.
However, State prosecutor, Tjaart van Zyl raised concerns over Wardle becoming trial ready to conduct her defence.
“It seems like we are sitting in a situation where the accused is refusing a helping hand, it’s quite concerning. Under the circumstances she doesn’t have access to resources, she will have access to the docket and charge sheet but she won’t have access to case law,” he said.
Van Zyl said that Wardle would need to conduct her defence in a sober mind and the investigating officer would follow up with correctional services on her claims that she was not receiving the correct medication.
All necessary documentation, including the charge sheet and police docket, will now be provided to Wardle so that she can get herself trial ready.
The case was postponed to 11 August , when Wardle will be expected to confirm whether she is ready to proceed with her trial, which has been provisionally set down for September.
– African News Agency (ANA)