Posted by: The Saffa Mom | July 16, 2011

The Johannesburg Magistrate Court is NOTHING like the set from Law and Order!

It’s Friday the 8th July 2011. I am awake 2 hours earlier than normal. In the middle of winter! All a little crazy. I sneak around the house trying to do things as quietly as a mouse, but at the same token- wish everyone would get up with me. Today is somewhat special.

Today is the day that I have to appear for my companies first trial. It’s a horrible thing, and I really don’t want to have to be there. BUT it is a step in the right direction. It shows that after 2 and a bit years, my company is finally moving forward. It has officially taken this long.

I don’t think I have spoken about work much in my blogging. Perhaps just how frustrated and bored I am at times. Our company deals in commission litigation. When someone has rightfully done their job, and for whatever reason the deal does not continue, or the agent is not paid, I go in and make that stand. I am the middle man. I take A’s work, make sure I have a litigation attorney on it, and reap some of the settlement at the end of the day. I carry the risk financially throughout the process. And yes, unfortunately the last 2 years have been somewhat difficult. South Africa’s legal system could possibly be compared to the bits of broken soggy rusk at the bottom of the coffee cup. Does anyone ever really want to deal with it?

I had to pick up my main witness at 7 o’clock, and from there make my way to the Joburg Magistrate Court. I have never been. I was worried about finding parking, I was worried about getting lost, and I was worried that I would need to pee. I had been told by my attorneys that whatever I do, I should not drink anything. I needed to avoid the idea of the bathroom for as long as possible. Somewhat relieved, I am unable to report officially on the bathrooms…. I made it through! And only because I did not drink a single thing from opening my eyes until our day was done. On a winter morning, coffee is almost a survival aid. I was not a happy chappy.

We arrived 30 minutes earlier than planned, thanks to the school holidays. The building was quiet and cold. We found a dark dingy court to hide ourselves in, and figure out where we were going and whether we had tackled everything. (In front of me stapled to the Magistrate’s table was a 2010 calendar. Huh???? I took so much for me not to rip it off.) I must be honest when I realised that my attorneys were not actually on the ball, the cold that I was filled with turned to heat. I was officially pissed off. How can we go from one day being comfortable and questioning how we could possibly loose, to the next having an advocate who has way too many questions?

The longer we sat, the colder the building became. My toes started to ached, and even though I was wearing enough to be in a snow storm, I felt like the court was perhaps built on dry ice. Our team then went to find the magistrate and sort timing out. At that point we realised that our court file was GONE. Missing! Convenient. It happens more often than not in South Africa, and one of the frustrations that is experienced on a daily basis.

There was no reason for our defendant to have the file go missing. In fact, if anything he needed to move it forward. He was applying to be an advocate, and so is not able to have actions in place. They all need to be done and dusted. Almost makes me want to drag our feet! The defendant did offer us a settlement….. although laughable. It was 20% of the amount were litigating after. (Let’s not include the costs.) Later on, my attorney did pull out a sheet which was a bit of a police report on the defendant and clearly reflected what a fraudster he was. Not only from impersonating a lawyer and actually handling cases in court, to impersonating a police officer but stealing jewellery was also on the list. All guilty charges. Tell me that this man will actually become an advocate. Would that surprise a south African?

A couple of hours later the file was found. A couple of hours of pacing in the cold corridors, of the coldest building in Johannesburg. A couple of hours of no coffee, or friendly chat. At that point- everyone is fed up of friendly chat. (I think I never want to schedule a trial in winter again!) Now that I think about it, perhaps it was the defendant’s plan. Perhaps by lengthening those initial hours, we would have decided on settlement? 

The court room we were allocated to had a stream of light coming through, not as dark and dingy. A 2011 calendar- surprise! Everytime a truck drove past, you could not longer hear what was being said. The trial was long. It was freezing, and incredibly disappointing. We are not talking Ally stuff here, or Law and Order. The court room was small, with a couple of benches. Who was there- well us. Just us and the magistrate. AND (almost forgot) a guy with a piercing through his chin, who I watched fold his arms and sit slumped the entire time. He was also cold clearly.

Much better look than the first court room we were in

I have a feeling that lawyers must feel quite despondent when they first realise that it’s not like TV, and they have just studied for 7 years thinking it was. I was quite grateful that I had never done it, although having this business I often wish I had.  

Unfortunately we were hit with something that I can honestly say our attorneys had never even thought of. We had never even comprehended their defence, and in fact his advocate stated that this had never been tried in court.

The conclusion is scheduled for the 22nd. It will cost the company a lot financially if the case is thrown out. It will earn us even more if we do leave with the judge (magistrate) in favour of use. I am not talking financially, although the money will help. I am talking about emotionally. We need something to give us a huge ego right now. We need something to tell us that we have something solid. That the time, energy and passion we have put in were all for a beautiful end goal.

So hold thumbs everyone.

xx       

 

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Responses

  1. Wishing you the best possible outcome!! xxx

    • My friend- I NEED teh best possible outcome! xx Thank you.

  2. Yes, hoping all goes well and you make your goal!

    • If i meet out goal- all will be well.
      xx

  3. Holding thumbs for you!

  4. Best of luck to you!


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