Prince gets a telling off

2011-10-08 00:00

DURBAN businessman and socialite Prince Sifiso Zulu was given a dressing down by Pietermaritzburg high court Judge Yvonne Mbatha yesterday for failing to appear in court on September 29 and continuing with a business trip to Dubai, even though he knew that his appeal was set down for hearing that day.

Zulu’s appeal was reinstated by Judge Mbatha and his bail extended, but it was increased from R5 000 to R15 000 on strict conditions.

She made an additional condition that he must file heads of argument for his appeal by February 11 next year or his bail will be immediately revoked.

Zulu’s appeal against his convictions and sentences for culpable homicide and other charges will be heard on March 1.

While his advocate, Mergen Chetty, yesterday submitted that there is a prospect that Zulu could succeed on appeal and have his convictions and sentences set aside,

Weekend Witness learned that the state has filed a notice of its intention to apply for higher sentences to be imposed on Zulu.

He was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment (two years conditionally suspended) on the main charges of culpable homicide and reckless and negligent driving and to fines totalling R9 000 or two-and-a-half years’ imprisonment on further counts.

Zulu claimed in an affidavit before the high court yesterday that his attorney phoned him the night before his appeal was due to be heard on September 29 to tell him it was set down on that day, and simultaneously told him that he was withdrawing as attorney of record as he had not been paid fees.

Zulu claimed it was too late to find a replacement lawyer in time.

Judge Mbatha said a reasonable person would have appeared personally in court, sought assistance to gain new legal representation and would not have left the country on a business trip.

Zulu’s conduct in ignoring his case for 15 months and claim that he did not know until the night before when his appeal was due, was “shocking”, she said.

The judge also said Zulu’s apology at this stage was “insufficient”. But she took into account that he had not fled the country as rumoured and that he has since co-operated with the state and brought himself to court before a warrant for his arrest was issued.

She admonished Zulu to treat courts with respect in future

Zulu arrived at court with a number of supporters in tow and appeared confident, relaxed and jocular.

State advocate Johan du Toit did not oppose the application to reinstate Zulu’s appeal or extend his bail, but said the state requires that the bail conditions be “tightened up”.

Besides the increase in the amount of bail, the new conditions that were agreed by the parties stipulate that if Zulu’s appeal is dismissed, withdrawn, abandoned or struck off the roll in future, he will have to surrender himself within 48 hours to the clerk of the criminal court in Durban.

• ingrido@witness.co.za

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