Defence alleges police witness ‘tailored’ evidence in Zuma drink driving case

2013-10-29 00:00

THE defence suggested to a police state witness at the drunk driving trial of Lieutenant-General Bethuel Zuma yesterday that he “tailored” his evidence to bolster the state’s case.

Defence attorney Sergie Brimiah made the suggestion to Warrant Officer Bongikosi Gwaza after grilling him about discrepancies between his evidence in court and two police statements he made in the wake of the alleged incident on the night of December 19, 2008.

Zuma has pleaded not guilty before magistrate Reard Abrahams to charges of drunk driving, escaping from custody, defeating the administration of justice and failing to comply with the instructions of a traffic officer.

Under cross-examination yesterday, Brimiah asked Gwaza to explain why his police statement differed from his evidence in court on Friday.

In his testimony Gwaza said he was told by traffic officer Kerwin Johansen that a motorist in a white vehicle had failed to stop at a roadblock in Alexandra Road; that they had chased it to Abbott Road (in Pelham); and that they had conducted a breathalyser test on the driver who thereafter fled into a house at 3 Abbott Road.

Brimiah said according to Gwaza’s police statement, Johansen had told him that the vehicle was stopped in Alexandra Road, that the driver was tested for alcohol, and thereafter drove off with traffic officers in pursuit.

Gwaza remained silent for some time while the questions were repeated.

He said he gave evidence about what he recalled.

At one point during the cross examination, Brimiah suggested to him that he seemed to “have a knack of going around and not answering questions”.

On another occasion he suggested that his evidence was “tailored in order to bolster the state’s case”.

“That is why you have deviated so much from your two statements,” said Brimiah.

The state did not call any further witnesses yesterday due to congestion of the court roll.

The case will resume today when it is expected that the prosecution could call two further witnesses.

One of the state witnesses who testified earlier this year was senior provincial traffic inspector Karen Bishop.

She told the court that she and her colleagues were conducting a roving alcohol roadblock in Alexandra Road on the night in question, when a Mercedes Vito with GP number plates failed to stop.

They chased the vehicle to Abbott Road.

Bishop said the driver was Zuma.

She said her colleague, Kerwin Johansen, asked Zuma to take a breathalyser test, which he did.

The test showed he was over the limit.

Bishop told the court when Johansen tried to put handcuffs on Zuma he ran away, jumped over a two- metre-high gate and took cover inside a house.

He did not come out until it was too late to take a blood sample.

Zuma denies these allegations.

The case is proceeding.

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