Zuma ‘attacker’: I was very drunk

2011-03-23 00:00

BODYGUARDS feared acid had been thrown at President Jacob Zuma when whisky and soda was split on him at the Durban July race meeting last year.

The trial of Gauteng racehorse agent Daryl Peense began in the Durban Magistrate’s Court yesterday with Peense admitting he spilt his drink on the president from a balcony as Zuma walked by, but that it was not intentional. He was drunk, the court heard.

The state alleges that Peense threw the drink at Zuma.

According to testimony, Peense was holding his glass, leaning his forearms on the balcony railing, when his drink spilt.

According to Peense’s plea explanation, he did not mean to cause the president harm and the president made no complaint about the incident.

During the incident, Zuma’s lead bodyguard, Captain Patrick Maphumolu, pulled Zuma close and shielded him with his jacket, while bodyguard Constable Funani Nemaenzha and uniformed officers went looking for the assailant.

When he eventually found him in the bar, his first words, according to Nemaenzha, were: “I didn’t mean it”.

He said Peense smelt of drink and couldn’t speak properly or walk straight.

Peense’s advocate, Jimmy Howse, said that even five hours later when he was examined by a doctor, Peense’s hand co-ordination was impaired.

Nemaenzha testified that he thought Peense deliberately threw the drink, because he immediately stepped back from the balcony railing, and didn’t apologise. He said he didn’t explain why he stepped back, if the spill was accidental.

Neither Maphumulo nor Nemaenzha discussed the incident with Zuma, and they said they didn’t know who decided to charge Peense with assault.

Maphumulo told Howse “the police” made the decision.

The state closed its case after the police officers’ testimony, and Howse will apply on April 19 for a discharge on the grounds that the state has not proved its case.

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