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Friday, 4 July 2008

'Ít was the white man's land, now it's ours,' is claim on disputed tape

Five cellphone recordings used to capture Judge Nkola John Motata's ranting, allegedly while drunk, are authentic, a witness told the Joburg Magistrate's Court today.

Richard Baird was being cross-examined this morning by defence attorney Danie Dorfling about the process during which the cellphone recordings were copied onto a CD.

"If it's found on the CD then it must have come off my laptop," said Baird.

Baird's tenant, Lucky Melk, was also expected to testify today.

Melk was present when Motata, allegedly while drunk, crashed his Jaguar into the wall surrounding Baird's Joburg home in January 2006.

The controversial recordings of the judge's outbursts on that day were played for the first time in court yesterday.

The Pretoria High Court judge has pleaded not guilty to the drunk driving charges.

Baird recorded much of what transpired after the crash on his cellphone. It is these five audio recordings that are the central focus of a trial-within-a-trial.

Judge Motata's legal counsel fought to have the recordings ruled inadmissible, but last month the Pretoria High Court ruled Joburg Magistrate Desmond Nair was "entitled and indeed obliged" to listen to the recordings before deciding on their admissibility.

Baird, a former IT manager for a JSE-listed company, used his laptop to play the controversial recordings to the court.

In the first part of the clip, a conversation is heard between Judge Motata and Lucky Melk about the damaged wall.

Melk is heard establishing that the judge was "a man of the law", while Judge Motata speaks about South Africa once being the white man's land, "but now it's ours".

Later he shouts "F*** him, he mustn't insult me", referring to Baird calling him a "drunken person".

A while later, the voice of a metro police officer is heard.

The officer asks for the judge's driving licence. She can be heard asking Judge Motata to be humble. "The situation does not permit us to raise our voices," she says.

During the recording, Judge Motata says: "I know I am at fault. I am willing to pay the person. I am not begging anyone".

The trial continues