Police muddy Zuma case

09 February 2014 - 02:02
By Editorial
Image: Supplied

OUR front page has a spine-chilling quote from a man whose life has been turned upside down. "Zuma killed my wife and I want justice. It doesn't matter whether he is the president's son - justice doesn't have eyes. Everybody is equal before the law."

Those are the words of a grieving Themba Dube, whose wife, Phumzile, was killed in a car accident on Saturday last week. Duduzane Zuma, the son of President Jacob Zuma, allegedly hit a minibus taxi from behind, leading to the death of Phumzile, who was a passenger in the taxi, and seriously injuring two others.

There are strong indications that the police might have failed to follow standard procedure at the accident scene. No breathalyser test was carried out. That was a shocking lapse that has the potential to hamper the carriage of justice rather than help it.

The questionable manner in which the police handled the accident scene has now planted a seed of doubt in the minds of the victims. Some of them are already crying foul as they smell a police cover-up. This is a strong suspicion. Although conclusions should not be reached in haste, it is perfectly understandable why they feel that way. The feeling stems from, among other things, the failure by the police to administer an alcohol test, which is a routine step when dealing with a fatal traffic accident.

As a result, it is doubtful that an investigation can get to the bottom of the case. Not even Zuma will benefit in the long run if it is shown that the police failed to do their job - whether as part of an intentional cover-up or as just another case of incompetence.

On the other hand, the victims may never be satisfied that everyone is equal before the law. This is an important element of justice that must not only be done, but must be seen to be done. Suspected police bungling serves to further erode already waning public confidence in the service. It can also strengthen the feeling that the law is on the side of the rich and famous.