Prosecution given 'one more chance' in EFF MP's 'laptop theft' case

26 June 2019 - 13:48 By Aron Hyman and philani nombembe
EFF MP Nazeer Paulsen outside the Cape Town Magistrate's Court on June 26 2019.
EFF MP Nazeer Paulsen outside the Cape Town Magistrate's Court on June 26 2019.
Image: Aron Hyman

A laptop theft case against EFF MP Nazeer Paulsen was given one last chance on Wednesday after Cape Town magistrate Riaz Khan threatened to strike it off the roll.

The state asked for another postponement for the matter to be finalised for trial but Khan noted that the complaint was made in 2017 and that the case had been set down for trial twice since then.

The prosecution asked for another delay because the investigation was incomplete without a string of e-mails between Paulsen and the complainant, Western Cape MEC for social development Sharna Fernandez.

Fernandez, then speaker of the Western Cape provincial legislature, accused Paulsen of stealing a laptop belonging to the legislature.

According to Paulsen, his woes started in 2015 when he moved from the provincial legislature to the national assembly.

The MP previously told TimesLIVE that he wrote to Fernandez about his intention to buy the laptop, which he had been using for some time. However, he received no response.

The prosecution said Fernandez had been locked out of the provincial parliament’s database when she assumed her new job as MEC but would be back in the legislature on Friday.

With the help of the IT department, she would retrieve the e-mails which are said to shed light on the allegations against Paulsen.

The EFF MP previously said he was surprised when he received a call from a journalist asking him if he knew he had been reported to the police for the theft of the laptop. He said he had since handed it in after "deleting his personal stuff".

His lawyer Theodore Swartz said he returned the laptop, and Paulsen said the case was politically motivated.

"I wrote to the speaker [Fernandez] to ask her if I could purchase the laptop because it had personal information and other confidential information. I thought it would be easier. Who wants a second-hand laptop? It is like giving second-hand underwear to someone," said Paulsen.

He said he had other exchanges via e-mail but could not share them as they were "part of my defence".

The case was postponed until July 11, when Khan said it must be ready for trial. If it was not, he would throw it out, he said.