A Sexual Offences Court dismissed an application on Wednesday for the court to refer a case to the Western Cape High Court to review the proceedings in which a Chinese couple were found guilty of human trafficking for sexual purposes.
The application arose from allegations of an incompetent Mandarin court interpreter who, it was claimed, had made at least 140 serious errors while verbally translating the proceedings into a Mandarin dialect.
The defence team, advocate William King and attorney Ben Mathewson, contended the mistakes resulted in the two accused receiving an unfair trial.
Before the court were a Chinese man, Jiang Wang, and his female co-accused, Yiting Wong, both 32.
Sentencing proceedings were to commenced in May in the Sexual Offences Court in Parow but were delayed, first by a Mandarin interpreter who did not arrive, and then by the application to have the proceedings set aside.
In Wednesday’s proceedings, Magistrate Elsa van Zyl agreed with prosecutor Anthea Swartz that the application had to be launched in the high court itself, and not in the sexual offences court.
The prosecutor told the court: “The defence has brought the application in the wrong forum.”
The prosecutor said the dispute about the interpreter was a factual one, that this could only be resolved on appeal after the pair had been sentenced.
The case was postponed to September 30 to give the defence the opportunity to request the high court to review the proceedings.
A tearful Wong protested that the matter was taking too long to finalise – the trial started in November 2014, and they have been waiting since May last year for finalisation.
Wang, in turn, asked for his bail conditions to be relaxed to allow him to go home for a short period to his wife, who needed eye surgery. The magistrate declined Wang’s request.
It is normal for a court to revoke bail once an offender has been found guilty. However, in this case, the magistrate extended it on strict conditions to make it easier for the pair to consult their legal team, she said.
However, she said the court was “not inclined” to relax the bail conditions.
– African News Agency (ANA)