Water drainage caused Zuma crash - lawyer

2014-11-24 14:37
Duduzane Zuma is seen in court. (Werner Beukes, Sapa)

Duduzane Zuma is seen in court. (Werner Beukes, Sapa)

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Johannesburg - Lack of water drainage caused an accident involving President Jacob Zuma's son, Duduzane, in which a woman died, an inquest heard on Monday.

Zuma's lawyer Gary Mazaham said one would not expect to find pools of water on one of the country's "premier highways".

Zuma had not been driving negligently and should not be subjected to a criminal case, Mazaham contended.

"I respectfully submit that there's not sufficient evidence that Mr Dlamini or Mr Zuma be taken through a further case," he told the inquest in the Randburg Magistrate's Court during closing arguments.

On 1 February, Zuma's car rear-ended Jabulani Vusi Dlamini's minibus taxi on the M1 South off-ramp to Grayston Drive in Sandton.

Taxi passenger Phumzile Dube died and three others were injured. Zuma said he lost control of his Porsche after it hit a puddle in rainy conditions.

"Negligence does not attach to Mr Zuma," Mazaham submitted.

"The pool of water was unforeseen.... He took the necessary and only precautions he could take, by going to a reasonable speed for those conditions."

He submitted that prior to the accident, when the rainfall increased, Zuma lowered his speed from 120km/h to between 90 and 100km/h.

"He slowed the vehicle down to what was a smooth and comfortable ride."

He said Zuma had concentrated more on the road than on his speedometer.

Combination of elements

Mazaham argued that a combination of elements contributed to Zuma's car aquaplaning, causing him to lose control of the vehicle.

He said the drain on the road was probably blocked causing a build-up of excess water on the road; the slope of the road was shown to be inadequate according to international standards; and the heavy rainfall on the day was undisputed.

The danger had not been caused by Zuma as argued by the State, he said.

Earlier, Yusuf Baba, for the State, argued that Zuma should be held criminally liable for the accident.

Baba argued that Zuma had been negligent by not lowering his speed in wet road conditions.

"In the majority of wet weather cases, the defendant was found negligent for not reducing speed to meet weather conditions," he said.

Baba argued that Zuma had driven in the wet conditions for a while before the accident occurred, and there had not been a "sudden and unforeseeable change" in the road conditions.

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

Magistrate Lalita Chetty will present her findings on 11 December.

Read more on:    duduzane zuma  |  johannesburg  |  crime

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