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Duduzane Zuma to learn his fate in culpable homicide case today

Duduzane Zuma.
Duduzane Zuma.
Image: Alon Skuy

Duduzane Zuma, the son of former president Jacob Zuma, will find out on Friday whether or not he is guilty of culpable homicide and reckless and negligent driving.

The Randburg Magistrate’s Court is expected to pass judgment in the case, which involves the death of a minibus taxi passenger in 2014.

Phumzile Dube died after Zuma's Porsche crashed into the minibus taxi on the M1 south, near the Grayston turnoff in Johannesburg.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) initially decided not to prosecute Zuma due to "insufficient evidence".

However, the matter was referred to a magistrate for an inquest to determine whether the accident was caused by human error.

In December 2014, the inquest, held at the Randburg Magistrate’s Court, found that negligence by Zuma was the cause of Dube's death.

However, after AfriForum’s private prosecution unit applied to privately prosecute Zuma, the NPA reversed its initial decision and announced it would prosecute Zuma last year.

The criminal case began this year.

During cross-examination, Zuma told the court that on the day of the accident there was heavy rain and visibility was poor.

He also told the court that he had been driving at a speed of about 120km/h and had hit a puddle of water, which resulted in his vehicle losing control and spinning.

Michael Jankelowitz, a motorist who testified on Zuma's behalf in May, told the court he was driving on the same road when Zuma's Porsche collided with a minibus taxi.

Jankelowitz corroborated Zuma's version that it had been raining on the fateful night and that he was not speeding

During closing arguments last month, Zuma’s counsel, Mike Hellens SC, said there was no evidence that Zuma was travelling at an excessive speed when he overtook the minibus taxi.

Hellens contended that Zuma could not avoid aquaplaning (losing control of the vehicle because of water on the surface of the road).

“Aquaplaning happened unexpectedly. What could Mr Zuma have done to avoid aquaplaning that night? At what speed was he supposed to drive that night to avoid aquaplaning?"

However, prosecutor Yusuf Baba argued that aquaplaning did not happen on its own and that there were factors affecting it, such as “tyre pressure, the speed of the vehicle”.

Baba said it was up to the court to rule on whether Zuma had been driving negligently.

“The court has to determine the following: did Mr Zuma drive the car as a prudent driver, did he take precautions and did he reduce his speed? He failed dismally," Baba argued.

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