Prince Zulu meets deadline to file appeal

2012-02-14 00:00

BUSINESSMAN Prince Sifiso Zulu has met the deadline to file papers to appeal his conviction and sentence arising from a fatal accident in Durban in 2008.

The appeal will be heard on March 1.

Zulu was given until February 11 by Judge Yvonne Mbatha to file heads of argument for his appeal, failing which he had to surrender himself to begin serving his jail sentence within 48 hours.

The ultimatum was given after he had failed to appear in the high court in Pietermaritzburg to argue his appeal on September 29 last year, and instead continued with a trip to Dubai, despite knowing the appeal was due to be heard that day.

He was sentenced in August 2010 to a total of five years’ imprisonment, two years of which were suspended, plus fines totalling R7 500, in connection with an accident that claimed the lives of two churchgoers on March 29, 2008.

His driver’s licence was also suspended.

The victims were members of the Soul’s Harbour church whose bakkie was hit by Zulu’s BMW X5 at high speed. After the accident Zulu reportedly left the scene and called his friend, police commissioner Bheki Cele (who was the KZN transport MEC at the time).

Cele arrived at the scene and later arranged for Zulu to hand himself over to police. Zulu denied he had been driving the BMW at the time of the accident.

A Durban Regional Court magistrate, Thomas Nhleko, convicted Zulu of culpable homicide, reckless and negligent driving, driving under the influence of alcohol and various counts of failing to perform the duties of a driver after an accident. In the heads of argument filed on Zulu’s behalf it was submitted that the trial court was wrong to reject the evidence that someone else — identified as Bongumusa Gumede — had been driving the car on the day in question.

It was submitted the court had failed to appreciate there was “clear evidence” before it that Gumede had been driving; on the other hand, it was mere “conjecture and suspicion” that Zulu had been driving.

As for the sentence, it was submitted that the high court ought to consider imposing a non-custodial sentence. It was argued that the trial court had disregarded pre-sentence reports by experts, and in so doing “deprived itself” of the opportunity to fully understand Zulu’s history, background, context and reasons for his actions.

It was submitted that the court had therefore sentenced Zulu “without fully knowing and understanding him and his actions”.

It was further suggested that the sentence imposed is “so harsh that it is unlikely to reform or rebuild” Zulu, but was “more likely to break him”, because he would never be able to pursue a business or political career.

“Given that business and politics are his passion, the effect of this particular sentence will be to permanently destroy a young man’s interests in life,” it was submitted.

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