“Mr Zuma says he came to your car and at two occasions at least asked if you’re equipped to take a breathalyser test. He wanted to take a breathalyser test,” Gary Mazaham, for Zuma, told metro police officer Jeffrey Phogole during the inquest in the Randburg Magistrate’s Court.
Phogole, the first officer to arrive at the scene two hours after the accident, responded: “Yes, he did ask me that and that’s when I said I don’t make final decisions.”
He said he had called his senior officer Johannes van Loggerenberg to take over because a woman had been killed.
Zuma’s Porsche rear-ended Jabulani Dlamini’s minibus taxi in the rain on the M1 south off-ramp to Grayston Drive, Sandton, in February. Minibus passenger Phumzile Dube was killed and three others were injured.
Phogole denied sitting in his car for most of the time he was at the scene.
“Mr Zuma says that for a large part of the time at Grayston you were actually sitting in your car because it was raining.”
According to Zuma, he sat in the passenger seat of Phogole’s car explaining to the officer what had happened.
Phogole denied this and accused Zuma of lying. He also denied that it had been raining.
According to Zuma’s statement, he lost control of his Porsche after it hit a puddle. It spun, hit the back of the taxi and came to a standstill facing oncoming traffic.
Other witnesses had testified that it had been raining at the time of the accident and afterwards.
The inquest adjourned early for tea so that Phogole could fetch his notebook from his car. Police use these notebooks to record details of the incidents they attend to.
After looking at the notebook and making copies for the rest of the court, Mazaham questioned Phogole about the times recorded in the book, which had been scratched out and changed. They also did not correspond with the times recorded in Van Loggerenberg’s report.
“Based on the minimum period we discussed, [Phogole] would’ve arrived at 00.10am, where, based on his evidence, Mr Van Loggerenberg would’ve been there for 20 minutes already,” Mazaham said.
Phogole insisted he had arrived before his senior and could not say if one of them had noted the times incorrectly.
“I can’t say who is wrong or who is right. What I can say is that Van Loggerenberg wrote his own statement and I wrote my own statement.”
Mazaham criticised Phogole for not taking accurate notes.
During the proceedings, Zuma, wearing a black suit and a dark blue tie with white spots, got up from his seat in the gallery and passed a note to Mazaham.
Earlier, Phogole gave contradictory evidence about the position the two vehicles were in when he arrived at the scene. He first stated that both were in the emergency lane, facing south. Later he said the taxi was at an angle, straddling the lanes.
On Tuesday, the inquest heard that Zuma’s car came to a standstill facing north, with the taxi at an angle to it.
In July, the National Prosecuting Authority said it declined to prosecute Zuma due to insufficient evidence. Spokesman Nathi Mncube said at the time the matter would be referred to a magistrate for a formal inquest to determine whether the accident was caused by human error.