Exclusive: How Duduzane Zuma dodged speeding fine bullet

19 July 2017 - 14:34 By Kyle Cowan And Mzilikazi Wa Afrika
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Duduzane Zuma. File Photo.
Duduzane Zuma. File Photo.

Duduzane Zuma quickly and quietly settled R7000 in traffic fines before an inquest into a fatal car crash‚ with the help of a lawyer who was clearly hard at work to clean up his image‚ leaked emails show.

Zuma’s lawyer Gary Mazaham was paid around R700 000 and his work included having a private consultant settle three speeding fines for which warrants of arrest had been issued in Zuma’s name‚ totalling R7000.

Duduzane is President Jacob Zuma’s son and in 2014 the Porsche he was driving collided with a taxi on the M1 highway.

Two women who were travelling in the taxi died. Phumzile Dube‚ 30‚ died at the scene‚ and Jeanette Mashaba died in hospital a few weeks after the crash.

Mashaba's death was ruled a result of natural causes.

Zuma maintained that his high-powered Porsche hit a puddle of water and he lost control‚ veering into the taxi‚ which in turn smashed into the barrier.

The fines were never brought up during the inquest inquiry and NPA spokesman Luvuyo Mfaku said the prosecuting authority was not aware of the speeding fines until sent questions by TimesLIVE.

Mazaham also advised Zuma on how to doctor his testimony to fit in with his initial account submitted to police after the accident in one letter telling him to “please carefully reconsider his recordal” (sic) of certain details.

This information comes to light following a report by The Times on Wednesday in which it emerged that the National Prosecuting Authority declined to prosecute Zuma despite Randburg Magistrate Lalitha Chetty ruling Zuma was negligent and his actions led to the death of 30-year-old Phumzile Dube.

Asked about apparent contradictions in two statements made by Zuma‚ Mfaku said: “Such evidence if in existence must be placed before the prosecution for same to be considered with all the facts surrounding this matter.”

“Depending on the nature of the evidence the prosecution will always review and consider its decision based on the new evidence if such is relevant to the conduct on the date of the accident.”

Mfaku also confirmed the NPA had declined to prosecute Zuma in August 2015 because after an intensive review of the evidence‚ there was no chance of a successful prosecution.

Contained in the leaked emails is an itemised billing spreadsheet Mazaham sent to Zuma which shows he paid Polo Dimeo of Trafficwize R25 000 for his services which included collecting information from Johannesburg Metro Police officers and paying the fines.

According to the bill‚ Mazaham charged Zuma for a few hours he spent preparing a defence for the fines in case the prosecutor‚ Yusuf Baba‚ brought it up during the inquest.

It is on the same spreadsheet that Mazaham mentions the warrants of arrest.

On 19 August 2014 he writes the following:

"Preliminary discussion with Mr P Dimeo an requesting that he obtain a full printout of all traffic transgressions of client. Obtaining detailed schedule from him in terms of traffic infringements and determining three non-admission of guilt recordals with warrants of arrest."

And again on 7 October Mazaham writes:

"Paid P Dimeo agreed prescribed fee‚ inclusive of disbursements of R7000 for purposes of settling three non-admission of guilt fines and to ensure withdrawal of warrants of arrest."

The speeding fines however‚ never featured during the inquest‚ which got underway in November 2014.

According to the Justice Project SA website‚ non-admission of guilt (NAG) fines are issued when a driver contravenes Section 35 of the National Road Traffic Act – offenses that will usually result in a driver being arrested on the spot if stopped by a traffic official.

Among the offences under Section 35 of the act‚ a motorist would be issued a NAG fine for exceeding the speed limit on a freeway by more than 40km/h and in urban areas by more than 30km/h.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and reckless and negligent driving also fall under this section of the act.

Of particular concern is the fact that the first person Zuma contacted after the fatal crash was Tony Gupta and not the police.

A NAG fine would be received in the post along with a summons to appear in court. 
“Failing to appear in court will lead to a warrant of arrest being issued against you.”

JMPD spokeswoman Edna Mamonyane explained to The Times that if you then pay the fines after a warrant was issued‚ you will also be liable for penalties stipulated by the court for being in contempt.

“But once that is paid‚ the warrants of arrest will be withdrawn‚” she said.

Dimeo declined to comment when contacted last week‚ but vehemently defended Zuma saying he was innocent and people were “gunning for him because of his father”.

On 31 October 2014 Mazaham sent a letter to Zuma via email and attached a statement which was compiled between them.

“For your purposes‚ we attach hereto a copy of the said statement. This document is purely to assist you in a recordal of the chronological events of the evening in question and immediately thereafter‚” Mazaham’s letter reads.

Mazaham then goes on to point out certain discrepancies in Duduzane’s version of events and that of key witnesses including:

• The number of bodies hanging from the taxi and
• Which barrier the taxi driver told him he had collided with after being struck by Zuma's Porsche

“Please carefully reconsider the recordal of what Mr Dlamini (the taxi driver) evidently indicated to you immediately after the collision with reference to the barrier which he struck. He is adamant in the answers furnished to us‚ that he struck the steel barrier; this appears to accord with the preliminary findings by Mr J Strydom‚” Mazaham writes‚ Strydom being the expert paid for by Zuma who reconstructed the accident scene.

The Times also identified another discrepancy in the statement Mazaham prepared‚ which wasn’t adressed in the letter to Zuma on 31 October 2014.

Duduzane states that after the accident he phoned Rajesh “Tony” Gupta and a friend with whom he had been having dinner earlier in the evening.

“I advised him [the friend] that my mobile phone battery was low and if he was unable to reach me on my mobile phone due to it possibly going flat‚ that I would probably be at the Sandton Police Station.”

But Zuma in fact went home‚ and did not immediately report the accident to the police – it remains unexplained why he only gave a statement to Sandton SAPS eight days after the crash.

In the statement Duduzane gave to police that was read out in court‚ Zuma says he asked the friend to call an ambulance but during the inquest it is not mentioned that he phoned Tony Gupta.

Since the revelation of the NPA’s decision not to prosecute‚ the Democratic Alliance has requested access to the inquest docket.

“Of particular concern is the fact that the first person Zuma contacted after the fatal crash was Tony Gupta and not the police. This is not surprising given their close and controversial relationship but may be a part of the reason that the NPA have chosen not to charge Zuma‚” the party said.

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