Take a cab, suggests 'remorseful' Yengeni

2017-03-17 18:05
Tony Yengeni (Tammy Petersen, News24)

Tony Yengeni (Tammy Petersen, News24)

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Cape Town - "It's better to take a cab," African National Congress politician and businessman Tony Yengeni advised South Africans after "three sips of African beer" in Gugulethu led to him being found guilty of driving his white Maserati while five times over the legal blood alcohol limit.

"I regret the fact that I have been found guilty of drinking and driving," said Yengeni outside the Cape Town Regional Court on Friday after Magistrate Grant Engel handed down judgment and sentenced him to a fine of R30 000 or 90 days in prison.

Half of this sentence was suspended for five years on condition he is not convicted of a similar offence.

Yengeni was not found guilty of negligent or inconsiderate driving after the allegation that he almost hit a traffic island when he came off the freeway and joined Buitengracht Street, crossed a barrier line, and suddenly veered from one side of the road to the other.

It was the second time he was up for a driving under the influence charge after an arrest in Goodwood in 2007.

He was found not guilty in that case.

Yengeni was previously convicted for fraud connected to a discount he received through an arms deal bidder for a car.

But this was expunged by the minister of justice, so Friday's conviction was treated as his first.

No-one hurt

Prosecutor Leon Snyman wanted Yengeni to get the harshest possible sentence because he is well known and it would set an example of the consequences of driving under the influence.

"He did not even bother to get Uber, or Taxify," said Snyman, referring to the transport services.


But Yengeni's lawyer Advocate Dirk Uys said the politician had not hurt anyone, and had not damaged anything.

He has responsibilities as a married man with an infant, and also has to be able to work because he financially supports his daughter, who is still studying, as well as a grandchild.

Engel said because he is obliged to treat all who appear the court the same, he could not give Yengeni a harsher sentence than others just because he was famous.

That would be unfair, he said.

Engel dismissed Yengeni's allegation that the case was part of a political conspiracy against him, saying a statement by the opposition Democratic Alliance calling on the police to do their job was to be expected from the party.

He also did not accept Yengeni's challenges to the calibration of the blood testing machine, or allegations that the arresting police officer added false information to the details in his pocket book afterward.


Engel said there would be no point in taking away Yengeni's driver's licence because he had the means to hire somebody to drive him around to conduct his business as a consultant.

He had also not found Yengeni guilty of driving his Maserati without number plates, because he had the licence number printed on paper, as is custom with new cars.

After Friday's court proceedings Yengeni shared his feelings.

"It is embarrassing, and I must admit that," he said.

"South Africans, all of us, must be careful about engaging in that kind of behaviour."

Yengeni told reporters that he was remorseful, and urged people to rather take a taxi, a train, or a cab, if they ever found themselves in situation similar to the one he had been in.

"I have the app," he said, referring to taxi services.

Yengeni maintained that he had been visiting at his father's family home on August 11, 2013, and the only alcohol that passed his lips was three sips of traditional African beer.

Asked outside the court who had made the potent brew, Yengeni said it was a family issue that he did not want to discuss.

Engel took almost two hours to get to his final guilty verdict, citing from legal precedent at length and extensively to back up his decisions.

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Read more on:    anc  |  tony yengeni  |  cape town  |  crime

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