Witness says camera footage shows Cape Town lawyer damaged neighbour’s car

Gary Trappler accused by neighbour of race attack

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Accused lawyer Gary Trappler leaving the Cape Town Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday. Photo: Sandiso Phaliso

  • A case of malicious damage to property against lawyer Gary Trappler was initially withdrawn in 2021, but reinstated last year after CCTV footage of the incident was admitted as evidence.
  • The footage appears to show that no-one but Trappler was close enough to Thandi Mgwaba’s car to commit the deed.
  • Mgwaba has accused him of slashing her tyres because she is black.
  • Trappler has pleaded not guilty.

Cape Town lawyer Gary Trappler was at the scene of a tyre slashing incident in Green Point on the evening of 19 February 2020, according to a neighbourhood watch member’s testimony at the Cape Town Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

Trappler has pleaded not guilty to the charge of malicious damage to property for allegedly slashing the car tyres of his neighbour, Thandi Mgwaba. She has accused him in court of attacking her car because she is black.

The case against Trappler was initially withdrawn in 2021 due the senior prosecutor deciding the CCTV footage did not show Trappler actually slashing the tyres. However, it was later included as evidence.

Former Green Point Neighbourhood Watch chairperson Peter Flentov on Wednesday presented a 19-page PowerPoint presentation consisting of stills from video footage to Magistrate Venge Qula.

The video clips taken between 4:36pm and 9:23pm made it clear it was Trappler who slashed Mgwaba’s car tyres, said Flentov, as none of the other people who appeared in the footage were close to Mgwaba’s car.

He pointed out they were all either walking in the middle of the street or on the opposite pavement.

He said he had obtained the footage from a neighbourhood watch member who had got it from a police reservist. Flentov then posted a report on social media stating a resident had slashed a neighbour’s tyres, later adding that a Green Point lawyer had been arrested in the case.

Although Flentov had not named Trappler, he got a protection order against him after Trappler threatened him online. Two days later, Trappler counter-filed and got a retaliatory protection order against Flentov. Both men have since withdrawn their respective orders.

“Mr Trappler had filed a protection order against me, accusing me of conspiring with the police and colluding with the EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters), and accused me of an attempted break-in at his residence,” Flentov told the court.

In November last year, Mgwaba told the court she had filed a criminal complaint at the police station the day after the incident, and had contacted people she knew in the EFF who joined her in confronting him. Confronted by Mgwaba and EFF members, Trappler had called the police, who, upon arriving at the scene, arrested Trappler. He was released the next day.

Flentov said the video footage showed that Trappler approached Mgwaba’s car four times. On two of the four occasions, he appeared to put a note on the car. On the third occasion he went to the rear tyre and then the front tyre, after which the tyres deflated.

Trappler’s lawyer, Anel du Toit, objected to Flentov’s testimony a number of times, claiming it was hearsay and was “inadmissible”.

Du Toit said the Flentov’s presentation was a combination of black and white pictures that were blurred.

The case has been postponed until 10 May when the state will call its last witness before closing its case.

Correction on 2024-04-18 09:12

Multiple inaccuracies in the article were corrected after publication. We regret the mistakes.

TOPICS:  Court

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