Drunk driving: Vilakazi fined

2009-12-02 00:00

SUSPENDED Umngeni municipal manager Dumisani Vilakazi pleaded guilty yesterday to some of the charges arising from an accident in which he crashed his Mercedes Benz in August last year, and was sentenced to a fine of more than R30 000 or jail of more than 18 months.

Vilakazi pleaded guilty to a charge of driving while his blood alcohol level was over 0,25g per 100 ml of blood and a charge of malicious injury to property for kicking a police vehicle and causing slight damage to its tail- lights.

On the charge of driving while over the legal alcohol limit, he was fined R30 000 or 18 months’ imprisonment with R20 000 or 12 months suspended for four years. On the malicious injury to property charge, he was given a fine of R2 100 or three months in jail. He paid a total fine of R12 100.

Six of eight charges related to the accident were withdrawn. He had been charged for refusing to blow into breathalyser equipment, defeating the administration of justice for allegedly having removed a number plate from his vehicle, reckless and negligent driving, resisting arrest, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm to traffic officer Trevor Andrews, and making a false statement under oath.

Defence advocate Chris Snyman said Vilakazi was remorseful about the accident. “My client has great remorse for what happened because of his position as municipal manager; he is embarrassed [when he goes to] the council.”

He said Vilakazi resisted arrest because he was in shock after the accident and had a cut on his hand, and was angry that the police officers took him away while paramedics were attending to his wound.

On the day of the accident he was travelling from Mooi River to Howick when his car slammed into the back of a truck on the N3. His vehicle was written off as a result of the crash.

Vilakazi and the embattled uMngeni Municipality have been in the spotlight for a variety of wrong reasons recently. Mayor Edward Dladla was instructed by the province’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) to vacate a R1,7 million house bought for him by the council and ordered to repay rates and services costs.

Municipal speaker Surya Kumari Pillay was convicted of fraud over misrepresentations to acquire an RDP house and she quit her position to become an ordinary councillor.

The municipality also came under fire over its nine senior managers, including Vilakazi, whose salaries were inflated from R900 000 to R1,3 million a year. A council sitting in July voted to cut Vilakazi’s salary from R1,3 million to R850 000 per annum. The salaries of his eight senior managers were also ordered cut by similar amounts. The managers’ total package amounts to just over R9 million a year — 14% of the municipality’s total salary package for over 400 staff members.

Last month Vilakazi was suspended at a special council meeting. Council also requested Premier Zweli Mkhize to appoint a commission of inquiry into the affairs of the municipality.

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