Friday, October 16, 2009

Drugs, Lies & A Videotape

The soap opera trial got even more controversial this week. The star witness seemingly has a failing memory; flip-flopping between versions of events that favors the state and then the defense’s case. Just as things seemed as they could not become more tedious with the protracted cross examination and yet again the drug smuggling conviction came the introduction of an explosively controversial video tape.

This has been one hellishly long week with 16 hour working days of which 6 of those hours being spent with me sitting in court struggling to prevent my butt falling asleep. Arriving at our offices at 7am we fight our way through what we have now fondly named “Little Harare” as the section between the court and our offices have been occupied by Zimbabwean refugees. These refugees spent their days and nights in this section of pavement doing everything there from eating to sleeping. Unfortunately they also decided to pollute this area with their trash and their bodily fluids and excrements. So arriving at work in the morning the moment you step out of the car you are overwhelmed with the smell of urine and rotting food, hence none of us are having breakfast anymore. The permanent occupants of our office building say we’ll get use to the smell but I am not convinced.
Spending so many hours with my colleagues and having had many late nights this week I have come to discover that brilliant minds comes at a cost. You see I have discovered that every member of our team has their own unique little phobias. In our group we have two members that are afraid of heights. Normally this would not pose any problems. However, our temporary offices have been designed around several indoor court yards and all the offices has glass walls facing these court yards and we are on one of the top floors. As we walked into our offices on the first day one members unsuspectingly walked into her assigned office deep in thought and as she turned around was faced with only a piece of glass separating her and a long drop to the ground floor. We heard a hysterical scream and discovered her standing sucked to the opposite office wall frozen in fear. An hour later blinds were installed in all our offices.

Another member of our group suffers from claustrophobia and this prevents him from taking an elevator so every day we spent up to 10 minutes waiting for him when we depart the building or having to go anywhere. Then we have the member with arachnophobia who constantly mistakes any small fuzzy item as a spider which is a problem because the actual court room is not cleaned everyday (if ever) and many little fuzz balls tease his nerves on a daily basis. Being a group with healthy sense of humor we do exploit these phobias from time-to-time for our own sadistic amusement.

Having had a small break on Monday from little Harare, the glass palace and ominous fuzz balls we returned on Tuesday to resume the trial. The star witness would start his 2nd day of cross examination by the defense. Everyone was geared up for a show and that is exactly what they got. The witness being a convicted drug smuggler may have been confused to be philanthropist and cuddly teddybear mafia boss. So I was quite taken aback when people were shocked that he admitted to lying when it suited him and was for his own personal gain. Wouldn’t one expect that from a criminal and a person who is also charged for murder? As he was taking a beating on the stand I could not help but compare him to an overweight house cat being taunted by a little dog. His reactions ranged from being annoyed with his usual frown and lifting of his eye brows, confused, at times lazy, to sporadic attempts at lashing back. The bickering only seized after the judge lost his temper violently slamming down his hand on his pulpit followed by a cringe of pain and a harsh reprimand.

The pièce de résistance this week came with the introduction of the controversial DVD that was made of the witness over a year ago by some spy bosses. This DVD was awaited with great anticipation as a titanic battle was fought over whether it should be admitted or not. At the end of the day it was provisionally admitted and the court was entertained with 57minutes of very controversial assertions by what seemed to be a very aggrieved, animated and very talkative complainant and a laid back spy boss listening to him while smoking his cigarettes and the other spy boss hidden out of sight. There were moments of humor, moments of shock and moments of confusion. All-in-all it was quite a satisfactory experience for all the media attending the proceedings.

The highlight of my week was the fact that the media decided they had enough footage of us and we were not stalked by photographers. We had quite a peaceful stroll through little Harare’s alley of urine and trash without the added stress of having to dodge cameras. As far as I know I was not in the newspapers or on the news, and it was quite a relief. As the testimony of the star witness winds down, the next waves of witnesses are lined up and are sure to attract another frenzy of interest. As for me, I am just going with the ebb-and-flow of events, trying to keep the blood circulation going in my derriere during the trial, doing my work and avoiding stepping in crap.

Till next time.

1 comment:

Pierre said...

Another day, another "secret" video tape. Maybe we should all bring popcorn to court as from now. I suspect by the way things are going we will be able to edit together a full length B movie with the stuff.

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