Zulu leaves court in leg irons

2012-05-19 00:00

IN contrast to his jaunty departure a week earlier, Sifiso Zulu left the Pietermaritzburg high court in leg irons yesterday.

He was escorted by heavily armed prison officials after failing in his application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeals (SCA).

Judge Pete Koen with Acting Judge Themba Mjoli also refused to grant Zulu bail pending a last ditch attempt to have his convictions for culpable homicide and driving under the influence of alcohol set aside by petitioning the president of the SCA for leave to appeal.

If his petition for leave to appeal is also refused then Zulu has no further legal options to explore and will start serving his effective three-year jail sentence.

His lawyers have already indicated, however, their view that Zulu will qualify for a hefty remission of his sentence in terms of the president’s remission announced on Freedom Day.

Judge Koen said yesterday the considered view of the court was that there was so little prospect of Zulu’s petition succeeding, and his application was “so devoid of merit” there was no basis on which to grant him bail pending the petition.

Masuku earlier yesterday withdrew Zulu’s appeal against his sentences after a brief discussion with Zulu in court. He conceded that as two people had died in the 2008 crash involving Zulu’s BMW X5, the sentences “might be appropriate”.

In his written submissions on sentence, state advocate Sandesh Sankar suggested that Zulu was fortunate not to have been charged with murder.

Zulu himself appeared healthy as he listened intently to the arguments in court, despite reports that he has been held in the prison hospital since his incarceration began last Saturday evening, May 12.

The reason given to the media by Correctional Services for his hospitalisation is that Zulu must undergo medical assessment, which could last up to 21 days.

Zulu’s attorney, Lonwabo Dandala, declined to speak to Weekend Witness when approached.

The court yesterday touched little on Zulu’s antics leading up to his eventual surrender to Correctional Services last Saturday, 24 hours after his deadline expired.

However, Judge Koen did question Masuku on the reasons Zulu did not surrender on time.

“Is this just pushing the limits? Saying, ‘I’ll surrender when it suits me’? Does that not indicate something of a nonchalant attitude to what the law requires?” the judge asked Masuku.

Masuku invited the court to call Zulu to the witness stand to answer for himself, but the judges declined. Instead Judge Koen asked why the court should have to try to “fill in the gaps” for Zulu.

Judge Koen also referred to some “disturbing developments” previously when Zulu failed to show up for his appeal in the high court last year and went to Dubai. On his return the appeal was re-enrolled.

The judges further noted that in Zulu’s affidavit in support of yesterday’s application he wrongly claimed to have only one previous conviction, for fraud in 1990, when in fact he also has a previous conviction for reckless and negligent driving in 2006.

Judge Koen stressed that he was not swayed by any publicity surrounding Zulu’s case when considering bail, saying he did not care if Zulu was an important businessman or a pauper. In the court’s eyes he was “just another accused”.

• ingrido@witness.co.za

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