Magistrate criticises cop in Zuma accident

By Drum Digital
05 November 2014

The magistrate presiding over the inquest into an accident involving President Jacob Zuma's son Duduzane, in which a woman was killed, on Wednesday criticised a metro police officer's poor testimony.

"I have to voice my disappointment that we spent an entire day with an officer of the JMPD and I'm still left where we left off with yesterday's [Tuesday] proceedings," Magistrate Lalita Chetty told the officer, Jeffrey Phogole, at the inquest in the Randburg Magistrate's Court, Johannesburg.

And perhaps the family of the deceased who are present here today, I can't imagine how they feel to have sensed the kind of apathy that came across from your testimony," she continued.

Phogole was the first Johannesburg metro police officer (JMPD) at the scene of the accident where Zuma's Porsche rear-ended Jabulani Dlamini's minibus taxi in the rain on the M1 south off-ramp to Grayston Drive, Sandton, in February.

Minibus passenger Phumzile Dube was killed and three others were injured.

Phogole's testimony, which took the whole day, was littered with inconsistencies.

During the lunch break, prosecutor Yusuf Baba obtained the records from the tracker in Phogole's work vehicle.

Zuma's lawyer, Gary Mazaham, used these records to dispute the times Phogole had given in his statement. He said there were inconsistencies in Phogole's evidence.

According to the tracker records, Phogole arrived at the scene seven minutes before he said he had received the call instructing him to go to the accident.

David Maree, for the Dube family, criticised Phogole for not breathalysing Zuma at the scene of the accident, especially after some of the taxi passengers told him they suspected Zuma was under the influence of alcohol.

Phogole insisted it was not his job to do this and that because someone was killed he had called his senior officer Johannes van Loggerenberg to attend to the accident.

"When we arrive at the scene, we don't just listen to the passengers... Even when there's someone who's drunk, I can't take that decision."

Earlier, the inquest heard that Zuma had asked Phogole to do a breathalyser test on him.

"Mr Zuma says he came to your car and at two occasions at least asked if you're equipped to take a breathalyser test. He wanted to take a breathalyser test," Mazaham said.

Phogole confirmed this.

In July, the National Prosecuting Authority said it declined to prosecute Zuma due to insufficient evidence. Spokesman Nathi Mncube said at the time the matter would be referred to a magistrate for a formal inquest to determine whether the accident was caused by human error.

The inquest is expected to continue on Thursday with the testimony of Van Loggerenberg.

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