Court dismisses Duduzane's application to have Porsche crash case thrown out

Duduzane Zuma.
Duduzane Zuma.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

The case against Duduzane Zuma will continue.

This is what magistrate Tebogo Thupaatlase ruled on Friday morning in Zuma's application to have a case of culpable homicide and one of negligent driving thrown out in the Randburg magistrate's court in Johannesburg.

Thupaatlase said a case could be discharged if the evidence was "poor"‚ but ruled this was not the case here.

Zuma's lawyer Mike Hellens had filed an application on Wednesday to have the case thrown out after state prosecutor Yusuf Baba finished up the state's case.

Hellens argued on Wednesday there is no evidence to show Zuma was driving recklessly in his Porsche 911 Turbo causing a deadly road accident on February 1 2014.

He said the four-wheel-drive crashed because of aquaplaning - that‚ basically‚ he lost control of the vehicle because of water on the surface of the road.

Baba argued on Wednesday that Zuma’s culpability lies not in his car sliding after hitting a puddle of water‚ but not doing enough beforehand to drive safer.

“At the end of the day‚ that human being behind the steering wheel is in control of how he behaves on the road.”

Hellens hit back: “What they (the state) haven’t established is at what point in time was Mr Zuma‚ as a reasonable driver‚ expected to foresee that there will be a puddle on a national highway. This is not some country road. On a national highway of such significance that driving around 90 to 100km/h‚ so the experts tell us‚ he would lose control of his vehicle. Where is that in the state’s case? It’s nowhere.”

Another charge of culpable homicide was dropped on Tuesday.

Minibus taxi passengers Phumzile Dube and Jeanette Mashaba died following after Zuma’s Porsche crashed into a minibus taxi on the M1 south near the Grayston turnoff.

Baba said on Tuesday the state had consulted with a pathologist and Mashaba’s death was a result of a pre-existing condition and was not linked to the accident. She died in four months later at home.

Zuma pleaded not guilty on Tuesday. He said in a statement‚ read out by Hellens‚ that he lost control of his car after driving through a pool of water which he did not see due to the poor visibility from the rain.

Porsche announced in January 2019 that it will introduce a wet mode system into its 911 models which “includes a function for detecting significant wet road conditions and a corresponding vehicle set-up for increased driving stability on wet road surfaces”.

Duduzane Zuma's culpable homicide case will continue after the Randburg Magistrate's Court in Johannesburg dismissed an application for it to be discharged on March 29, 2019.

Baba argued earlier that the wet mode is part of the gradual development and improvement of all cars.

“Twenty years ago there was no ABS (anti-lock braking system) brakes … It has got safety features‚ more than any other car.”

Hellens said the wet mode is “not some slow advance from ordinary braking to ABS braking. This was an acknowledged defect.”

Road accident expert Johann van Loggerenberg testified on Wednesday that human error could have led to the crash.

“The human being could have made an incorrect decision leading to an incorrect action.”

Van Loggerenberg was working for the metro police and was called out to the crash which occurred at about 10pm. He arrived at the scene at 11.50pm after attending to another crash.

Van Loggerenberg testified that most drivers either brake or accelerate when a car starts sliding‚ which would exacerbate the aquaplaning.

He believes that if the Porsche aquaplaned‚ the tyres of the car must have been smooth.

During cross-examination‚ Van Loggerenberg conceded that aquaplaning and smooth tyres are not mutually exclusive‚ and agreed and did not dispute a report which found the Porsche and its tyres were roadworthy.

- TMG Digital

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