A spilt drop cannot become ‘assault’ just because it’s on Zuma

2011-05-13 00:00

IF anyone other than President Jacob Zuma had been walking past when Daryl Peense spilt a drink, the state would not have prosecuted him on a charge of assault.

This was advocate Jimmy Howse’s argument in the Durban regional court yesterday at the conclusion of Peense’s trial.

Peens, a bookie from Alberton, testified that in the pushing and shoving on a crowded balcony he accidentally spilt some of his whisky and water as Zuma and his entourage were passing below during last year’s July Handicap.

The liquid did not spill on Zuma.

Peense was drunk during the incident and according to a doctor’s report, his co-ordination was still affected about five hours later.

“Someone’s conduct cannot be construed as assault because of another person’s status,” Howse argued. He referred to the “bizarre” situation that Zuma’s bodyguards did not see it as an assault on themselves and that no one even asked Zuma whether he regarded the action as a violation of his physical integrity.

Zuma did not file a charge and did not testify in the trial. The bodyguards and state apparently decided to prosecute Peense on a charge of assault, Howse argued.

Thami Ntuli, for the state, argued that Peense deliberately poured out the drink, because he moved away immediately.

He referred to Constable Edgar Nemaenzhe’s testimony that people on the balcony were waving at Zuma. Ntuli said Peense’s version, that he did not know it was Zuma passing below, is improbable.

Magistrate Guguletu Mpikeleli will deliver his ruling on July 6.

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