'What more could Duduzane Zuma have done?'

2019-06-20 16:05
Duduzane Zuma prepares to take the stand at his culpable homicide trial at the Randburg Magistrate's Court. (Sesona Nggakamba, News24)

Duduzane Zuma prepares to take the stand at his culpable homicide trial at the Randburg Magistrate's Court. (Sesona Nggakamba, News24)

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Duduzane Zuma's lawyers have argued that the former president's son could not have done much more to avoid a fatal crash and that he should be acquitted of the culpable homicide charge he faces.

Submitting closing arguments in the Randburg Magistrate's Court on Thursday, Zuma's advocate, Mike Hellens, said if the court took into consideration the evidence submitted by all parties, on the balance of probabilities, it would find Zuma not guilty.

In February 2014, Zuma crashed his Porsche 911 into a taxi which killed driver Phumzile Dube near the Grayston Drive off-ramp on the M1 in Sandton. 

He appeared in a packed court on Thursday, supported by his father, Jacob Zuma, and sister Duduzile.

While prosecutor Yusuf Baba argued that Zuma was not a prudent driver on the day of the crash, Hellens asked: "What could he have done?"

When Zuma took the witness stand, he told the court that on the day of the incident, there was a heavy downpour and visibility was poor.

He said he was travelling from Fourways to Saxonwold and had joined the highway from William Nicol Drive. Zuma added that he was driving at a speed of around 120km/h and hit a puddle of water, which resulted in his vehicle losing control and spinning.

Baba submitted that Zuma could have avoided his car from aquaplaning on the day.

'He could not have avoided that aquaplaning'

"Did Mr Zuma drive as a prudent driver? It is the State's submission that Mr Zuma failed dismally. As such, this court should convict Mr Zuma as charged."

Baba said Zuma's actions in poor weather conditions was that of a negligent driver, adding that the court should therefore determine whether he took all preventative measures into consideration to reduce his speed.

Hellens countered: "At what speed was Mr Zuma supposed to drive on that night, which would have avoided aquaplaning? There is no answer to that question [from the State]." 

He said while everyone was sorry that there was a fatality and injuries during the crash, there was nothing that pointed a direct finger at Zuma, adding that there was not much he could have done to avoid the water that caused his car to aquaplane.

None of the witnesses gave evidence there was anything that a reasonable driver, who was driving in such weather conditions, could have done, Hellens added.

"There is no evidence but the evidence of the accused [Zuma] that once his vehicle aquaplaned, he was not in a position to control his vehicle at all. He could not have avoided aquaplaning as he didn't see that pool of water." 

'Poor witness' 

Hellens said Zuma's account of what happened on that evening should be seen as credible because all the witnesses, including those brought in by the State, corroborated it. 

During the course of the trial, an expert said the taxi driver, Dube, was driving at approximately the same speed as Zuma.

Hellens submitted that it was, however, funny that the only speed in question was that of Zuma's, asking whether that meant the taxi driver was an "angel" and Zuma "the devil".  

The evidence of one of the witnesses, Matron Noni Mdakane who was a passenger in the taxi, was also disputed by Hellens. He said it should not be seen as credible because she had refused to answer some questions during cross-examination.

Hellens added that the court could not make a finding based on Mdakane's evidence regarding speed because she had failed to inform the court at what speed Zuma was driving. 

"We are making a closing submission that she is a poor witness, having contradicted herself with reference to previous versions." 

Hellens concluded his hour-and-a-half-long argument by saying that the court should find Zuma not guilty on all counts and discharge him.

The matter was postponed to July 12 for judgment.

#DuduzaneZuma Court has adjourned for judgment on July 12. Zuma and family leaving. @TeamNews24 pic.twitter.com/ZzCXFeEVDs

— Sesona Ngqakamba (@Sesona_Ngqaks) June 20, 2019

Read more on:    duduzane zuma  |  jacob zuma  |  johannesburg ­  |  courts

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