By Staff Writer
The trial of the State versus Reinhardt Zaire has been postponed to April 04, 2008 when the State is expected to call its last witness.
Prosecutor O. J. Lino asked for postponement yesterday after the regional court heard the testimonies of three witnesses, among them the Deputy Minister of Safety and Security, Gabes Shihepo.
Defence lawyer Jan Wessels was not comfortable with the plea for postponement, pointing out that the case has been dragging on for about eight years now.
Magistrate Dina Usiku could also not understand the absence of the witness, Theunis van der Westhuisen, who was meant to testify on Tuesday. Lino however explained the witness was not subpoenaed hence his absence.
In his testimony, Shihepo informed the court that he met the accused, Dr Zaire, way back when he was working with his nephew Lucky Hailombe at Stellenbosch Farmers Winery.
Meantime, he left for the Federal Republic of Germany where he completed his studies which made some people to refer to him (Zaire) as a medical doctor.
Although Shihepo did not know to whom the clinic in Planck Street belonged, he testified that he went there for treatment. He said at the clinic he knew the accused Dr Zaire very well but not so his wife, Mary Zaire.
He said his blood was drawn, tested and the accused informed him of the results which indicated “sugar” (diabetes). The accused later provided him with medicine which was no different from the medicine he had previously been provided by other doctors for the same disease.
Shihepo could not say who precisely prescribed the medicine to him since the accused did not say to him directly that he needed this and that. Neither could he testify ever seeing the accused taking blood from him. But he perceived the accused as a medical doctor by virtue of him taking blood and giving out medicine.
Shihepo said he went to the clinic expecting to be treated and was indeed treated by the accused.
Shihepo gave an “oohm” sigh before he could answer the prosecutor on whether he paid any money for the treatment he received. He said his medical aid was meant to pay upon a claim but it later transpired that the medical aid did not pay, whereupon he paid in cash to later claim from his medical aid.
He said he did not receive any receipts for his cash payment.
He said we went to the UN Plaza clinic only for a follow-up because his medicine had run out. There, his blood was again drawn by the accused and he was given his medicine. He could not remember making any payment at the UN Plaza clinic. He said he could only remember a nurse assisting the accused at this clinic.
Asked for a description of the doings at the UN Plaza clinic, Shihepo testified that he saw the accused’s wife who to him looked like the owner of the clinic. It also appeared to him that the accused as her husband and a medical doctor could practise at the clinic.
On cross-examination by the defence lawyer, Shihepo admitted to being aware that around the same time Dr Zaire was doing research in support of his challenge against a mining company.
He also admitted that Dr Zaire may have only treated him (Shihepo) to help him as a friend. Shihepo could not say whether Dr Zaire examined his blood.
Wessels also put it to him that when he went to the accused, he was the one who mentioned that he was diabetic and thus the accused could not have diagnosed him as such, whereupon Shihepo said “yes”.
Shihepo could also not remember who may have given him the medicine due to the presence of many people there, nor could he affirm that the accused ever charged for his role at the clinic.
Josephine Nelao Kalenga, a registered nurse, said Dr Zaire was introduced to her by his wife Mary, as both her husband and a medical doctor. Patients visiting the clinic used to ask for “Dr Zaire” who had a room from where he was operating. This room was just referred to as the “room of Dr Zaire”.
Kalenga however could not say why people were looking for him as she would not know what may have been happening behind closed doors in “Dr Zaire’s room”. She would either not know who sent people to the accused as visitors would gather in the reception area from where they would disperse to either see the “doctor” or the nurse.
She said as a nurse, she could only see patients up to the level that her profession allowed her. As a nurse at a primary health care clinic, she could not go beyond what she needed to do. She testified that all equipment in the clinic belonged to the clinic and these included a thermometer, barometer and stethoscope. This was except for a bed in the room from which Dr Zaire operated “to examine”.
Kalenga would not know if in the room in which Dr Zaire was seeing patients, he was also prescribing medicine.
The last testimony before the case was postponed was provided by Licias Shiimi, a cleaner and later a receptionist.