Cops ‘made up story’

2013-12-23 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG magistrate Reard Abrahams has been asked to find that two traffic officers “made up” the story that they tried to arrest Major-General Bethuel Zuma in December 2008 and that he had fled from their custody.

The submission was made by Zuma’s lawyer Sergie Brimiah when he argued in favour of Zuma’s acquittal before Abrahams on Friday.

Zuma’s trial has attracted widespread interest after he was appointed as Gauteng police commissioner for just an hour earlier this year, until it was discovered that he still faced these criminal charges.

Abrahams is expected to give judgment on January 28 in the case in which Zuma is charged with two counts — failure to obey the directions of a traffic officer to stop at a roadblock, and escaping from lawful custody.

The charges relate to an incident at midnight on December 19, 2008, when Zuma admittedly drove through a roadblock in Alexandra Road, claiming that he thought the officer who tried to flag him down might be a “bogus” cop.

Zuma has already been acquitted at the end of the state’s case of charges that he drove his Mercedes Vito whilst under the influence of alcohol, and of defeating the administration of justice for allegedly locking himself away in a house in Abbott Road in Pelham until the time had passed when his blood could legally be tested for alcohol that night.

The court found he was wrongly charged for the latter offence because he ought to have been charged under the Road Traffic Act, which makes it illegal for a person to refuse to allow a specimen of his blood or breath to be taken to test for alcohol.

State prosecutor Kwaziwenkosi Zimu has urged Abrahams to find, however, that the state has proved the remaining charges against Zuma and to find him guilty.

He submitted that traffic officers Kerwin Johansen and Karen Bishop were telling the truth when they said they had chased Zuma’s Vito from Alexandra Road with their blue light flashing and siren on.

He said they had lost sight of him briefly but came across his vehicle “within minutes” parked outside a house in Abbott Road, and Johansen asked him why Zuma had failed to stop at the roadblock. He got no response.

The two officers corroborated each other’s evidence that when Johansen read Zuma his rights and was about to put handcuffs on him, he had fled and scaled a wall or gate and then ran into the house.

Brimiah on the other hand suggested that Johansen and Bishop made up the “alleged arrest and escape story”, which Zuma denies ever happened.

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