Duduzane Zuma was let off the hook on a culpable homicide charge on Friday at the Randburg Magistrates’ Court.
The 35-year-old accused – the son of former president Jacob Zuma – also faced a charge of negligent and reckless driving, for which he was similarly found not guilty.
Magistrate Tebogo Thupaatlase ruled that any reasonable man in his position would not have been able to foresee a puddle of water on the road and act to prevent the accident in time. He also noted that Duduzane’s car was roadworthy.
Magistrate Tebogo Thupaatlase said his task was to determine if Duduzane had driven negligently on the night of the accident as well as whether or not this caused the death of Phumzile Dube.
Thupaatlase noted that the prosecution would have had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zuma could have seen the reasonable possibility of injury or death having occurred ahead of the accident.
He added that the steps which could have been taken by Zuma to avoid the accident must be determined, in this case, whether or not he could have seen a puddle of water in time to avoid it.
Thupaatlase had started by going through all the testimony that was heard in the case.
Duduzane’s argument that he didn’t notice the large pool of water on the road the night of the crash was mentioned, as well as his assertion that he had aquaplaned as a result.
Next, the testimony of an expert witness was referenced. This witness said Duduzane was not speeding on the night of the accident, and that the Porsche couldn’t have been airborne at any point on the night of the crash.
The testimony of a driver who was present on the night was then mentioned. Michael Jankelowitz-Roberts, a sports car enthusiast, said Duduzane had passed him on the road roughly 5km before the accident occurred. He testified that visibility was bad and that he couldn’t see the white lines on the road. He also said Duduzane had not been speeding.
Jankelowitz-Roberts was the last witness to be brought by Duduzane’s defence. The family of Dube expressed surprise at the time, as he had only come forward about having been present on the night of the crash during the trial this year, despite the accident having occurred in 2014.
Thupaatlase next noted that the driver of the taxi Dudzane’s Porsche collided with, Jabulani Vusi Dlamini, did little to assist the court in his testimony and admitted that he did not see Duduzane’s Porsche before the collision took place.
In 2014, Zuma was the driver in a car crash that resulted in the death of Dube. The Zimbabwean woman died after Zuma’s Porsche crashed into a minibus taxi on the M1 highway in Johannesburg.
Dube was killed at the scene where three others were injured and later, Phumzile Mashaba also passed away, in what has now been determined to have been caused by pre-existing conditions. This meant that one of the culpable homicide charges against Zuma were dropped.
Zuma’s lawyer, Mike Hellens, argued in March that his client was not driving negligently, but was, in fact, being cautious because of the heavy downpour.
However, the driver of the taxi Zuma’s car hit, Vusi Dlamini, said even though it was raining heavily, he could clearly see the road.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman. Background reporting, ANA)