Taxi 'spun two or three' times after being hit by Duduzane Zuma's Porsche

Duduzane Zuma appeared in the Randburg Magistrate's Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
Duduzane Zuma appeared in the Randburg Magistrate's Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
Image: Alon Skuy

He saw only lights and the next moment his taxi spun two or three times before he lost consciousness.

That is what taxi driver Jabulani Dlamini told the Randburg Magistrate's Court about the night former president Jacob Zuma's son Duduzane crashed into his fully loaded Toyota Hi Ace on February 1 2014 on the M1 South near Grayston Drive in Johannesburg.

Dlamini told the court he was transporting passengers from Fourways to the Johannesburg CBD. He slowed down on the M1 because of the rain and was driving around 90-100km/h.

The rain impaired his visibility and he could see three or four car lengths ahead of him just before the crash. He told the court there were few cars on the road and he was driving on the second lane from the left on a four-lane road.

One of the passengers told him to watch out for the Porsche. When he looked he could not see anything except lights before the Porsche crashed into him. He lost consciousness shortly afterwards.

The grill, lights and a tyre were damaged in the crash. Most of the damage to the Porsche was on the left and front of the car.

During cross-examination, Duduzane's legal representative, Mike Hellens, asked Dlamini if he had seen a similar accident as a taxi driver and if he considered it unusual.

Hellens claimed that, according to experts, a taxi would not spin if it was fully loaded with passengers, but did so on that night because of the wet conditions.

Dlamini also said that Duduzane told him after the crash that he lost control of his car.

Duduzane Zuma is seen at the Randburg magistrate's court on March 26 2019.
Duduzane Zuma is seen at the Randburg magistrate's court on March 26 2019.
Image: Alon Skuy

Duduzane was in the dock on Tuesday in his culpable homicide trial relating to the 2014 death of Phumzile Dube, 30, after his Porsche collided with a minibus taxi.

He heard on Tuesday that he would not have to answer for the death of Jeanette Mashaba, who died in hospital a few weeks after the crash. The court heard that the state had consulted a pathologist and Mashaba's death was ruled to be the result of natural causes.

State prosecutor Yusuf Baba explained that Mashaba had suffered from a pre-existing condition, which the state was unaware of earlier, that led to her death. It was not linked to the crash.

Zuma has pleaded not guilty. He said in a statement read out by Hellens that he was driving his Porsche 911 turbo on the M1 South around 10pm. He said it was raining and he lost control after driving through a pool of water.

The first state witness was SA Weather Service climatologist Mtombisi Nxumalo. He testified that there was no recorded rainfall on the day of the accident between 3am and 7pm but said it was difficult to distinguish between recorded rainfall and rainfall away from a weather station. The nearest weather station was 3.6km from the crash site.

The second state witness, Jacques Cronjé, who works for Porsche in Johannesburg, said that Zuma bought the vehicle in 2007. The last service the car underwent before the crash was on November 26 2013 for overheating problems.

The service before that was on September 27 2013 and the brakes were part of it.

Cronjé recalled his own experience of driving a rear-wheel drive Porsche 911 through a puddle of water at about 70-80km/h. He said it felt as if there was a "complete lack of control".

After a short adjournment, Hellens asked Cronjé for more details. Cronjé said it happened while he was driving at night and he saw the water only after he struck it.

Hellens then read out an article in Autonews, published in January 2019, about Porsche introducing a "wet mode" to help prevent aquaplaning.

"A combination of the vehicle's light weight and wide tyres means it aquaplanes much easier than a heavier SUV with narrower wheels. The best solution is to simply reduce speed and switch to the slow lane, but Porsche 911 drivers are not accustomed to this and believe control systems like ESP would help stabilise the vehicle.

"But these were not designed for such a task and could do relatively little to prevent this," the article stated, quoting Ulrich Morbitzer, head of sports car chassis development at Porsche.

In January 2019 Porsche announced a special wet-mode system to detect "significant wet road conditions and a corresponding vehicle setup for increased driving stability on wet road surfaces".

Shortly after the accident, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) decided for the first time not to prosecute based on the existing, insufficient evidence and referred the case to a magistrate's court or a formal inquest.

Randburg magistrate Lalitha Chetty ruled on December 11 2014 that Zuma was negligent. Chetty found "the death of the deceased Phumzile Dube was prima facie brought about by the negligent act of suspect 2, Mr Zuma".

Chetty rejected Zuma's defence that his car had "aquaplaned" in water as he had admitted to speeding up to overtake a car that was splashing water on the windscreen of his low-slung Porsche. She said he should have slowed down taking into account the heavy rain at the time of the crash.

AfriForum said last April it would seek a private prosecution of Duduzane Zuma for culpable homicide, prompting the NPA to reverse its decision.

The trial continues.

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