Port Elizabeth – The trial of Brenda Wardle, who rose to international fame as a legal expert in the Oscar Pistorius case, has been postponed in the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court on Tuesday morning as she was not ready to proceed.
Wardle is facing charges of fraud for allegedly impersonating an attorney and taking more than R500 000 from the family of a farmer convicted of murder.
She has a Bachelor and Master of Laws and is studying toward a Doctor of Laws degree, but is not a registered attorney.
Wardle, who is representing herself, recently abandoned her second bail application.
She told the court that she has been battling to prepare for her trial due to her conditions of incarceration, which has made it difficult for her to consult with witnesses and prepare her defence.
Wardle said she has brought a motion against the department of correctional services in the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth, seeking relief around the conditions hampering her ability to prepare for her case. She said the matter was set down to be heard on November 22.
The State alleges that between April 2009 and August 2013, she pretended to be a practising attorney and offered to assist the family in having farmer Stephanus van Aardt’s 12-year prison sentence converted to correctional supervision.
Wardle allegedly told them that she was a practising attorney specialising in the early release of prisoners and claimed there were substantial costs involved in bringing the application.
A warrant was issued for her arrest when she failed to appear in court. After evading the courts for over a year, she was arrested in East London, in June, in front of her grandchildren.
State prosecutor Tjaart van Zyl said they could reconvene on November 24 to discuss Wardle’s readiness for trial, with the provisional starting date set for December 5.
He said after December 5, the only dates available would be the January 18 and 19, 2018.
Van Zyl said the state had on numerous occasions offered to assist Wardle and that the offer still stood.
Magistrate Louis Claassen advised Wardle that it would be in her own best interest to be ready to proceed by December as the court roll was already full and the next available dates would most likely only be the middle of 2018.
“The state has tried to assist you so please try and be prepared,” he said before remanding the case to November 24 to determine a trial date.
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