Dauberman: 'I treated Zondi with respect, I never badgered her'
The defence lawyer in the Omotoso trial speaks out after being derided for his cross-examination tactics
The system for arriving at the truth in a court of law is not a perfect one, and for the defence, which relies heavily on oral evidence during cross-examination of a state witness, this can lead to the general public misinterpreting the context of questioning.
So says the man who has come under fire the entire week for his questioning of alleged rape victim Cheryl Zondi.
Defence attorney Peter Dauberman, counsel for alleged sex-pest pastor Timothy Omotoso, has been derided by people outraged by his methods of cross-examination.
But he spoke out this week, saying he did not badger Zondi while she was on the stand.
“I don’t resort to [aggressive] tactics. The complainant [Zondi] was evasive and argumentative, hence the need to insist on answers," he told Times Select’s sister publication, The Herald.
Dauberman has remained steadfast in his handling of the case, claiming he has been misrepresented in the press and on social media, and adding that some of his questions to Zondi had been taken out of context.
“I treated the witness courteously and with respect at all times,” he said.
On Monday, Dauberman was reprimanded by Judge Mandela Makaula when he pressed Zondi for specific sexual assault details.
The questions put to Zondi infuriated many and even led to organisations such as the Commission for Gender Equality saying they intended approaching the judiciary and the general counsel of the bar to discuss how alleged victims of sexual assault and rape should be treated when testifying in court.
“Regarding the depth of penetration, the question was legitimate because, contrary to her version in court, the complainant [Zondi] made no mention of any penetration of any part of her sexual organs in her affidavits to the police,” Dauberman said.
“Just for the record, I did not ask the complainant [Zondi] anything about the size of Omotoso’s penis.”
Dauberman was further rapped over the knuckles by Makaula when the attorney suggested that Zondi might have been aware that if she returned to Omotoso’s Durban residence she may be raped or sexually assaulted again.
The court heard the following:
Dauberman: "You knew there was a possibility you could be raped?"
Zondi: "I thought that if I didn’t [go to Durban] then I would die."
Dauberman: "So you were prepared to be raped?"
Makaula: "How can you be prepared to be raped? I don’t think it is fair ... "
Dauberman: "Your lordship is protecting the witness."
Dauberman said the system of arriving at the truth was an imperfect one as it relied heavily on oral evidence, “subject to cross-examination in a court of law”.
On Wednesday, Dauberman was followed to his car by supporters of Zondi and other alleged victims of Omotoso. Insults were hurled at him and at one stage water was thrown at him by the angry crowd.
Dauberman is representing Omotoso and his two co-accused, Lusanda Sulani, 36, and Zukiswa Sitho, 28, on charges including human trafficking and rape.
The trial continues on Monday.