Zuma assault: This is still all a dream, says drink spiller

2011-09-08 00:00

“I HAVE never had a brush with the law before and now to be accused of assaulting the president is beyond words,” said the man accused of assaulting President Jacob Zuma, albeit with alcohol, yesterday.

Daryl Peense will have to wait a little longer before he knows his fate when a sentence is handed down in the matter. And while the delay may give him time to raise desperately needed legal fees, it does not help his nerves.

Peense was charged with assault after presidential security and police arrested him for “throwing alcohol on to the president at the Vodacom July last year”.

Admittedly tipsy, Peense said, he was standing in the area above the president and unknowingly spilled the alcohol on to him.

He turned around to get a refill, but was confronted by the president’s bodyguards and apprehended.

Zuma is not aware of the incident and there has been no correspondence from him to date.

Johannesburg-based Peense, a horse racing adviser and director of an online betting service, said he has spent over R180 000 in legal fees, excluding his runaround costs.

Magistrate Guguletu Mpikeleli convicted Peense in July “without a shadow of doubt”, despite conflicting views of what had happened.

“The state has proven beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Peense intentionally and unlawfully threw alcohol on our president, which constitutes assault,” said Mpikeleli. “The case is admittedly unique, but nevertheless a very serious matter.”

Peense told The Witness yesterday ahead of his sentencing, “This is all still a dream to me. I just want to move on with my life — everything is at a standstill.”

He said that he is sorry about what had happened even though it was a mistake. “Had I known that this was a possibility, I would have avoided that area altogether.”

Peense said the prospect of sitting in jail even for a day is inconceivable.

The matter has been adjourned until November 1 pending reports from a Correctional Services officer and a probation officer, which may influence Peense’s sentencing.

Meanwhile, Peense has a growing group on Facebook, with thousands of friends rallying behind him.

He said, “It is great to see so many people of every racial divide support me on Facebook and who agree that this is just absurd and unnecessary.”

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