Having been ordered by the master mage from Howick’s magistrates court to do so, I made like a spirit and appeared in court his morning.
A small but festive gathering of friends and assorted colorful characters gathered outside the court in protest of prohibition and persecution of dagga culture and, more importantly from my selfish perspective, to lend moral support as I entered the temple of law to test the efficacy of the protection spells which were prepared and cast a couple of weeks ago. Said spells being a motion filed with the high court to stay prosecution pending the outcome of the constitutional court case challenging the constitutionality of Dagga prohibition.
An air of bureaucratically induced misery spiced with the smell of government issue disinfectant prevailed inside the building where ashen faced individuals were striking plea bargains with a public prosecutor obviously high on export grade self importance. My lawyer, being the sole practitioner of his profession whom I have ever encountered who manages to dispel the notion that lawyers are cold blooded reptiles disguised as humans, motions me over and informs me that the Director of Public Prosecutions has ordered the prosecutor to either withdraw charges against me provisionally or to keep on remanding my case till after the constitutional court case mentioned before. The former option being the logical and preferred course of action.
Now it is a well known fact that certain individuals who find themselves in a position of some power, despise nothing more than for those over whom they hold power to stymie their power by “going over their heads”. Madame prosecutor is no exception to this and she was not going to let my insolence go unpunished so, instead of withdrawing charges, she chose to remand the case. Next ‘appearance’ is to be 6 March 2015.
The implications of this is that I remain on bail, having to report to Howick police station once a week. This is little more than deliberate harassment as it severely limits my ability to travel for business and private purposes and furthermore can be construed as abuse of power and petty authoritarianism as madame prosecutor elected to dish out this punitive punishment in order to reset the scales of her private justice system rather than to serve the ends of justice as she swore an oath to do. The absurdity of the situation was further highlighted when the magistrate queried the necessity of forcing me to report to the police upon which she answered a with a resounding and self satisfied yes.
On the upside, by not withdrawing charges, I now have unhindered access to making my case in the high court and, given the number of precedents where stays were successfully granted by the high courts of South Africa, the outcome is a foregone conclusion.
A short but heartfelt thank you to all who showed up this morning at the court as well as to all the well wishers who sent emails, FB messages and texts in support and, finally, a huge thank you to Jeremy Acton of the Dagga Party SA for advising and assisting with the filing of the motions and summons.
The struggle continues.