State prioritising Yengeni case peculiar, court hears

2016-04-04 16:00
(Tammy Petersen, News24)

(Tammy Petersen, News24)

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Cape Town - The priority the State was giving the Tony Yengeni drunken driving case was peculiar considering he was not a government official, the ANC national executive member’s lawyer said on Monday.

The investigating officer told the Cape Town Community Court that the senior prosecutor had flagged the case as a priority after Yengeni's arrest in Green Point, Cape Town, in August 2013.

Warrant Officer Jeremy Steyn testified that while he was usually assigned to serious cases such as murders and robberies, his detective head allocated the drunken driving case to him, saying he "wants it done".

Yengeni’s lawyer Dirk Uijs had asked him why an officer of his seniority would be handed such a case.

Prosecutor Leon Snyman countered there was no "outside influence" and that it was not strange for cases involving government officials to be given priority.

Uijs said Yengeni was not a government official, but a national executive member of a political party.

It took on average six to eight months for blood samples to be tested, but Yengeni's blood test results were ready within two weeks.

A letter by the senior prosecutor indicating that priority should be given to the matter accompanied the ANC bigwig’s blood sample to the laboratory.

Steyn was asked if it was unusual for the senior public prosecutor to consult with witnesses in such a case. Three Metro Police officers at the scene had been asked to make further statements. He said it had been the only case he had worked on where this was done.

Yengeni, who was out on R5 000 bail, was arrested after being pulled over while allegedly driving his white Maserati erratically in 2013.

According to the blood test results, he had a blood-alcohol level of 0.25%, five times the legal limit of 0.05%.

Refusing a breathalyser

In January, Metro Police member Sergeant Jonas Gomba told the court he called for back-up after four men tried to obstruct him during Yengeni's arrest. He told the court he was not allowed to handcuff Yengeni and was asked if he knew who his suspect was.

Gomba said Yengeni was being "riotous", and swore and pointed at him after he was pulled over after nearly hitting a curb. Yengeni allegedly refused to take a breathalyser test.

On Monday, Uijs tried to have the results of the blood alcohol test disallowed. Magistrate Grant Engel however sided with Snyman, who argued the sample was reliable.

Uijs questioned the calibration of the machine used and the sodium fluoride found in the vial. Sodium fluoride is used to preserve the blood.

Reference was made to the 2012 drunk driving case of Jamie Ross. The Western Cape High Court found that a certificate of the blood test result was not sufficient proof of the machine's calibration and accuracy.

The case was postponed to 20 May.

Read more on:    tony yengeni  |  cape town  |  crime

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