Jail-bound Zulu defiant

2012-05-08 00:00

SIFISO Zulu remained defiant yesterday, with his attorney saying he would not report to prison until formally served with Friday’s judgment rejecting his appeal.

By the time of going to press no arrest warrant appeared to have been issued, and he was still a free man.

Zulu’s lawyer, Lonwabo Dandala, told The Witness neither his firm nor his defence counsel, advocate Thabani Masuku, were “ever informed” that the reserved judgment was ready and would be handed down on Friday, and to establish whether they would be available.

“This is a clear violation of the appellant’s [Zulu’s] rights to a fair hearing,” he said.

Dandala said they respected Judge Pete Koen and Acting Judge Themba Mjoli who heard Zulu’s appeal, as well as their judgment.

“But until the judgment is delivered to us, we won’t be able to respond by either appealing or by Zulu submitting himself to the prison authorities.

“The fact that the judgment wasn’t served on us really concerned me as an attorney with 15 years’ experience,” he said yesterday afternoon.

Dandala earlier told the Daily News he would approach Kwa­Zulu-Natal Judge President Chiman Patel to complain that neither he, nor his client, were informed about the judgment.

A source at court, however, maintained that the normal procedures were followed and that the parties were notified.

Patel, who is currently on a long leave, said last night: “I can’t believe what he is saying.

“No judge hands out a judgment with the appellant’s lawyer not being present. What he is saying, I find it incredible. If there was an error that happened, it happened in his office,” he said.

He referred queries to acting Judge President Achmat Jappie, who could not be reached for comment.

NPA spokesperson Natasha Ramkisson told The Witness she had checked the conditions of bail granted to Zulu pending his appeal. These conditions were signed in October last year when his application for appeal was placed back on the roll.

One condition states: “In the event of the appeal being finalised by being dismissed, whether wholly or in part, withdrawn, abandoned or struck off the roll … the appellant has to serve a term of imprisonment and must surrender himself within 48 hours to the clerk of the criminal court in the Durban Magistrate’s Court.

“If he doesn’t surrender then a warrant for his arrest will be issued,” the document states.

Asked if this did not mean Zulu should surrender himself notwithstanding any alleged unfairness in the way the judgment was delivered, Dandala repeated that Zulu would not react until they had received a copy.

He said the judgment had been widely reported on and “circulated” in the press, and he and his attorneys had read about it in the newspapers.

“Even today I don’t have a copy of the judgment,” he said.

Dandala said Zulu was “extremely remorseful” about the fact that his car was involved in an accident that had taken lives.

“He has prayed daily that those injured would allow him to extend financial assistance or help to them within the framework of the justice system,” said Dandala.

To demonstrate his remorse, Zulu had offered to help the families of the deceased financially as well over an extended period of time. This was even detailed in a report before the court by a correctional supervision official.

“Yet now the families have gone to the newspapers as if Zulu never extended any kind of financial assistance. It is very unfair.”

Zulu was sentenced to five years in jail, of which two years were conditionally suspended, and fines totalling R7 500.

The appeal court found he was the driver of his BMW X5 car when it jumped a red robot and hit a bakkie, killing two people and injuring 12 others, in Durban on March 29, 2008.

Police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker said last night he was not aware of an arrest warrant for Zulu and that police had not received any communication from the court.

In her reaction, Correctional Services Department spokesperson Nokuthula Zikhali said: “He has not reported to the facility and it is not our job to bring him in, that is the responsibility of the courts.”

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