A trial of a former SA soldier accused of intentionally infecting a partner with HIV has been postponed due to the unavailability of his attorney.
The 45-year-old soldier, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the woman who is a complainant, appeared in the Pretoria magistrate’s court on Wednesday.
The trial, initially set down for June, was postponed to this week because a new prosecutor was assigned to the case and the accused changed his legal representation.
The man, who was employed as a staff sergeant by the military and was stationed at the special forces unit in Phalaborwa, was charged with attempted murder and faces an alternate charge of rape under false pretences.
According to the charge sheet, the man tested HIV-positive in the army sick bay in Phalaborwa in October 2007. This was confirmed after further laboratory testing.
“Immediately after the outcome of the testing, the accused was informed by military medical staff that he was HIV-positive,” read the charge sheet.
In December 2016, the accused became romantically involved with a soldier employed as a corporal in the SA Air Force with whom he had protected and unprotected sexual intercourse on several occasions from December 2016 to April 2017.
It is alleged the accused never revealed his HIV status during this time.
Subjected to the same testing, the woman had tested negative in August 2016. The charge sheet states the woman tested positive in April 2017 after having been infected by the accused.
“The complainant (the woman) did not have sexual intercourse with any other person from the time she last had sexual intercourse with the accused during or about March 2017 and up to and until the time she tested HIV-positive,” read the charge sheet.
According to the charge sheet, the accused fraudulently misrepresented to the complainant that he was HIV-negative.
On Wednesday, while the state mentioned it was ready to proceed, the matter had to be postponed as the defence attorney was not present and did not send a representative.
When asked about his attorney’s whereabouts, the accused said: “He is not feeling well.”
The state prosecutor told the court the defence attorney had informed him he was on his way to the doctor.
The prosecutor requested a postponement to Oct. 13, stating he had already spoken to the defence attorney and he had confirmed his availability for that day.
The accused, however, objected to the suggested date, stating he had money problems as he had to travel to court. He said he was borrowing money to travel.
“I have been attending postponements, I have spent four years without a job. Now I’ve got a job and I am staying in Phalaborwa,” he said.
After phoning his attorney, the accused said he will be available on October 20.
The matter was postponed for the appearance of the defence attorney to set a new trial date.
TimesLIVE (TMG Digital)