Mabizela dodges media

2008-12-18 00:00

Pietermaritzburg-born soccer star Mbulelo “OJ” Mabizela did his utmost to evade the limelight when he appeared briefly at the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court yesterday in connection with a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol.

The Mamelodi Sundowns defender and former Bafana Bafana captain was surrounded by an entourage of supporters, all of whom did their best to shield him from photographers.

When a television crew was granted permission to film inside the courtroom while the court was not in session, Mabizela refused to enter the court, even when his name was called by prosecutor Pranisha Kasool.

His supporters were overheard remarking that his “rights” were being violated while he skulked in the foyer in a bid to avoid the media.

Mabizela arrived at and left the court via a back entrance in the car park.

After his appearance in court shortly before midday, he wasted no time and rushed away in the midst of his band of friends.

The 28-year-old, who lives in Midrand, faces a charge of driving a vehicle with a breath alcohol reading of 1,09 mg/1 000 ml of breath.

The legal limit is 0,24 mg/1 000 ml of breath.

The charge sheet reflects an alternative charge of reckless and negligent driving.

No mention was made in the charge sheet of an allegedly expired temporary registration plate on Mabizela’s car.

Mabizela was arrested on the afternoon of Friday, December 12, in Alan Paton Avenue (formerly Durban Road).

His lawyer, Nersan Naicker, told magistrate Dieter Schultz that Mabizela had paid bail but did not have the bail receipt on him.

He undertook to produce it at his next court appearance on January 21 next year.

Schultz postponed the case to that date to enable Mabizela to fully instruct his attorney, and ordered that his bail be extended.

Mabizela gave no indication as to how he intends to plead to the charges facing him.

Weekend Witness quoted Captain Dolf Otto of the SAPS Accident Unit as saying that Mabizela had been stopped at a roadblock while driving a black Chrysler. The vehicle was carrying four passengers.

After allegedly failing the breathalyser test, Mabizela was arrested and charged. He was later released on bail of R500.

On Monday, The Witness reported that the soccer star’s arrest left him with a lot of explaining to do. Sundowns spokesman Mahlatse Mphahlele told The Witness that Mabizela will have to justify his wayward behaviour when he returns to the club’s training camp in Chloorkop, Pretoria.

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