Newsmaker – ‘Only water and orange juice flow in my veins’

2011-11-19 16:04

Police took blood samples from him to prove he was driving under the influence of alcohol. But presidential adviser Zizi Kodwa says all they will find in his blood is water and orange juice.

He doesn’t look like a man caught up in a R5 million lawsuit against the police when we meet at a Rosebank hotel. He looks relaxed and chatty as we sit in a hotel lobby a few hundred metres from where he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol last weekend.

Kodwa was released on bail of R1 000 following his arrest in the early hours of Saturday morning. “Must have been the Saaz hop, the magic ingredient,” wrote Gammat on news website in a stream of amusing cyberspace comments triggered by the incident.

“Most likely mixed with Johnny Walker Blue label!” added a user calling himself Alva. “Let’s see whether there are different laws for different drunkards,” chipped in Kenny.

But Kodwa maintains: “You won’t find any alcohol in that blood sample. You’ll find only water and orange juice.”

He has instructed his lawyers to file a civil suit against the minister of police and another one against the two officers who carried out the arrest. They’re being sued in their personal capacities.

He has also applied to have his blood sample taken to a private laboratory for testing after his case was postponed to May next year.

“We don’t want stories about national laboratory backlogs and so on,” he says. “If there’s a backlog, we’re prepared to help them. We’ll carry the costs. They must take the sample to a private laboratory. They’ve created a suspicion that I was drunk.
It can’t stay until June next year, it can’t.

“You can’t have a situation where good, law-abiding citizens live in fear because of abuse of authority, because of brutality by police.  “They must live in fear of criminals and not the police.”

He argues that the lawsuit isn’t motivated by money but about defending his dignity and sending out a message to “rogue” elements within the South African Police Service.

“No, no. Not at all,” he says.  “It’s not even about myself. My conscience is very clear.  There are a lot of people who suffer in silence as a result of abuse of authority by some police officers.”

A user calling himself Arno Christopher Britz Meyer claims to have gone through a similar experience at the hands of Rosebank cops.

“I’m actually with Kodwa on this one,” Meyer writes. “I was also stopped in the early hours of the morning by police in full gear. Their comment was the same."

“People who drive in Rosebank after 12 must be under the influence.” Meyer says the police let him go after he paid a R200 bribe.

Kodwa says although the policemen never mentioned the word bribe, he suspects they were on a mission to extort money from him.

“I was stopped at 2am,” Kodwa says.  “An hour before that, another chap told me, he was stopped and gave the police R20.
“They asked him, ‘What do you think we’re going to do with R20?’

“He went to jail because he didn’t have more than R20. You can’t let police work like that. It means they’re prepared to let a criminal loose for money."

He says he didn’t play their “game of bribery” and therefore got the “highest punishment”.

“The idea was, ‘Drive around with him’,” he says. “After a while he’s going to panic and say ‘Guys, I have a wife, I have children, here’s your cold drink’.

“They inconvenience you. “They make it impossible for you and create a panic for you until you realise I’m not going to survive here.

“They were basically indicating that, ‘Zizi, lungisa ndoda (Zizi, pay up, man!).” Kodwa says although he was stopped at 2am, his blood samples were only drawn more than two hours later.

At first, he says, the Rosebank Police Station did not have the required alcohol testing kit, which prompted the police to drive him to a district surgeon in the Joburg city centre.

But they ended up driving in circles after getting lost. And when they eventually got to the place, it was deserted. A blood sample was finally taken at the Hillbrow Community Clinic at about 4.30am.

He was then driven back to Rosebank Police Station, where he was locked up in the back of a police van and driven to the holding cells at Parkview Police Station.

He was released after 8am. It emerged last year that the police are facing a staggering R11 billion worth of civil claims, which suspended Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele said had accumulated and were pending.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Katlego Mogale told City Press this week: “We’re dealing with this matter.

“We have received the papers from his lawyers. We accepted them and we’re giving the matter the necessary attention.”

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