Judge four times over limit

2008-09-03 00:00

Judge Nkola Motata apparently had four times as much alcohol in his blood than the legal limit when he drove his Jaguar into the wall of a house in Sandton.

Findings from samples taken three hours after the accident and presented yesterday in the Johannesburg Regional Court give Motata’s blood-alcohol level at 0,2 g/100 ml — four times over the permissible 0,05 g/100 ml level.

Motata, a judge in the Pretoria High Court, drove into Richard Baird’s wall at 12.20 am on January 6. Only at 3.35 am did a doctor take blood samples.

The regional court was told that his blood-alcohol level could have been even higher at the time of the accident and could have declined before the samples were taken.

The Health Department’s director of forensic pathology Professor Michael Stewart said in a sworn statement that, taking the time that elapsed into account, his blood-alcohol level could have been between 0,23 g/100 ml and 0,26 g/100 ml.

He said he had seen the results of blood sample DD0377/2007, which he had obtained from the Johannesburg forensic chemistry laboratory, and it had been drawn from a 60-year-old man of normal build and 1,6 metres tall.

Stewart, who oversees the work of the three chemical laboratories in South Africa, added: “It is unthinkable that the person from whom the blood was drawn could have had a blood-ethanol [alcohol] level of less than 0,2 g/100 ml at the time of the alleged offence.”

Prosecutor Zaais van Zyl asked Stewart if the Hillbrow laboratory in which the blood samples were analysed was accredited. Stewart replied that he is 100% sure of the the quality of the data produced by the laboratory. The Hillbrow laboratory is apparently not accredited with the South African national Accreditation System.

Motata’s legal representative, Danie Dorfling, submitted that the defence was never told that Stewart would express an opinion about the laboratories. An expert witness will later testify for the defence, he added.

During cross-examination, Dorfling questioned Stewart about the literature relating to alcohol intake and absorption. “Wouldn’t the trauma and stress of an arrest, for instance, contribute to the concentration of alcohol in Motata’s blood?” he said.

Stewart testified that there are various theories on the matter. He said that he agrees with some, but not with others.

The hearing continues.

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