Drunk driving: ‘Zuma must have heard loud sirens’

2013-10-26 00:00

A WITNESS at the drunk driving trial of police Lieutenant-General Bethuel Zuma said yesterday he believed Zuma would have heard the “loud” sirens blaring from police cars outside the house where he was allegedly holed up on the night of December 19, 2008.

There were also blue lights flashing.

Aboo Essop Aboobaker, the station commissioner of the Road Traffic Inspectorate at Park Rynie, said at the time he had only recently been transferred, and that night he happened to be at his home in Carey Road, Pelham, Pietermaritzburg.

The house where Zuma allegedly took cover from police is in Abbott Road, which leads off Carey Road.

Aboobaker said he had heard the sirens and saw flashing blue lights around midnight and “out of curiosity” went to see what was going on. He chatted to two officers he knew. One told him that the driver of a Mercedes Vito had failed to stop at a roadblock, that they had chased him to the scene and that “he was inside the house and he doesn’t want to come out”.

Aboobaker said he didn’t see Zuma that night because he simply chatted to his colleagues “while negotiations carried on at the house”.

Another witness, Warrant Officer Bonginkosi Gwaza, said he was in the area when a traffic officer approached him for assistance. He was told they had tried to stop a “white vehicle” but it failed to stop; that they had followed it to Abbott Road and that they did a breathalyser test on the driver who “ran into the house”.

Gwaza said the gate to the yard was locked. He and other officials “drew the attention” of the occupants using sirens and two women came out. One said she was the owner.

However, they could not gain entry as she said her “husband possessed the key”.

He later saw “the suspect” when he came out of the house.

Zuma’s trial has attracted widespread media interest, after he was briefly appointed police chief of Gauteng.

The appointment was abruptly cancelled hours later after it came to light that he was facing criminal charges.

He has pleaded not guilty to drunk driving, escaping from custody, defeating the administration of justice and failing to comply with the instructions of a traffic officer.

His attorney, Sergie Brimiah, has told the court that Zuma alleges he failed to stop for traffic police in Alexandra Road as he feared the officer was “bogus”.

He reported this to his superiors and drove to a family residence where he was arrested.

He denies allegations that he was breathalysed at the scene and was found to be nearly three times over the legal limit, or that he jumped over the gate and hid in the house to avoid arrest.

The case will continue on Monday.

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