Expert puzzled by Mandela crash

2012-04-17 14:40

An investigator is puzzled by the facts of a crash that caused the death of 13-year-old Zenani Mandela.

Johannesburg Metro police officer Henry Miller told the Johannesburg Magistrates Court that he did further research to establish what caused the speed of the car to increase after it hit a cement barrier.

“For some reason this vehicle had generated a very, very high speed. The speed increased and I could not understand why,” Miller said.

“At that stage, there would have been no serious injuries, but only damage to the barrier and the car.”

Miller was testifying in the trial of Sizwe Mankazana, who was driving former president Nelson Mandela’s great-granddaughter home from a soccer World Cup concert at Orlando Stadium on June 11 2010, when they crashed.

Mankazana, a friend of the Mandela family, has been charged with culpable homicide.

Miller was responding to questions by Mankazana’s lawyer Kenny Oldwage. He said the steel barrier the car hit had a sharp and protruding edge and was loose.

“I did my research and established that the steel barrier is manufactured to absorb shock, but helps to guide out-of-control vehicles to safer stops.”

Miller said after the Mercedes Benz hit the cement barrier it moved back towards the steel barrier.

The sharp, loose edge penetrated the car that was apparently moving at below 40km/h. This had a slingshot effect on the car, hurtling it to the other side of the road.

“As it moved, it generated speed. I studied the barrier online and it can actually generate a weight of 20 tons, so a two-ton Merc had no chance whatsoever.”

Miller said the barrier was made of spring-loaded material. He told the court it was the only way he could explain how the car landed up where it was.

“It was not the high speed, it was the barrier that was damaged, that was bent.”

Mankazana, dressed in a black, striped suit, sat quietly in the dock, listening and making notes. He was supported by family members and friends.

Walking into court with a crutch, Madiba’s ex-wife and ANC member of Parliament Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was accompanied by her daughters Zindzi and Zenani, and the child’s mother Zoleka.

Miller was earlier questioned on where Mankazana was when he arrived at the scene.

“Your worship, he was wandering around freely on the scene,” Miller told the court.

After hearing the new evidence, Oldwage asked for a postponement to consult with experts.

The trial was postponed to Thursday.

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