ConCourt finds Dr Daniel van der Walt didn’t get fair trial

ConCourt finds Dr Daniel van der Walt didn't get fair trial
MISTRIAL: eMalahleni gynaecologist Dr Daniel van der Walt who was convicted of culpable homicide for neglecting a patient after she gave birth has now been thrown a lifeline by the Constitutional Court after it ruled that his trial was not fair. PICTURE BY IOL

He was sentenced to 5 years in July 2017 for having a patient die in his hands.

Life Cosmos Hospital’s Dr Daniel van der Walt had his right to a fair trial violated, the country’s apex court found this week.

The Constitutional Court said the prosecutor should look at the case again as some evidence presented before the eMalahleni Magistrates Court where Van Der Walt was being tried for the death of his 23-year-old patient Pamela Daweti was not admitted and “he came to know this only at the stage of conviction”.

Daweti died while giving birth at the Life Cosmos Hospital, eMalahleni in 2005. Her child survived.

When sentencing Van Der Walt on 27 July 2017, magistrate Marlene Greyvenstein said Daweti was not going to die had Van Der Walt remained at the hospital attending to her instead of leaving her while she was bleeding badly after giving birth. 

ConCourt finds Dr Daniel van der Walt didn't get fair trial
Dr Daniel van der Walt, a women health specialist, spent his sentence in prison for the death of 23-year-old Pamela Daweti who died while giving birth at the Life Cosmos Hospital, Witbank in 2005

Constitutional Court’s Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga Tuesday this week 21 July 2020 set aside the eMalahleni Magistrates Court’s conviction against Van der Walt, finding this court violated his rights to a fair trial.

Madlanga asked for the prosecutors to look at the case again, and make a proper decision on it.

Van Der Walt has already served his prison term since being sentenced in July 2017 and was released recently on parole to spend the remaining of his 10 months jail term outside.

Madlanga said the late revelation by the magistrate that some of the key evidence presented in court put Van Der Walt in a position where he could no longer do anything to defend himself inside a court of law.

“Without timeous ruling on all evidence that bears relevance to the verdict, an accused may be caught unaware at a stage when she or he can no longer do anything,” Madlanga said when giving out his ruling Tuesday 21 July 2020.

He also found that the magistrate’s use of medical textbooks was a bit problematic as Van der Walt had not been given “the opportunity to challenge the textbook evidence”.

“[Whether or not Mr Daniel van der Walt] would have been able to challenge the textbook evidence successfully is not the question. The relevant question is whether [Van Der Walt was given] the opportunity to challenge the textbook evidence,” Madlanga said.

(edited by ZK)

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