Carstens must wait for judgment

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Copy of ca p11 Arno Carstens-done INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS Musician Arno Carstens and his lawyer, Milton de la Harpe walking towards the Cape Town Magistrate's court ahead of a previous court appearance. Picture Henk Kruger/Cape Argus

Cape Town - Musician Arno Carstens has to wait until November to hear whether he is guilty or not guilty of drunken driving.

On Wednesday, the former Springbok Nude Girls frontman appeared in the Cape Town District Court, where Magistrate Nasha Banwari heard closing argument and postponed the case to November 4, when she is to deliver judgment in the case.

He has pleaded not guilty to a main charge of drunken driving, as well as not guilty to an alternative count of driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.21 percent (the limit is 0.05).

Carstens was arrested late at night in the Cape Town CBD in December 2010 after traffic officers on patrol noticed his Mercedes-Benz driving erratically.

It was alleged during his protracted trial that he was unsteady on his feet and smelled strongly of liquor.

In Wednesday’s proceedings, prosecutor Andi Hess contended there was more than sufficient evidence for the court to convict Carstens of drunken driving.

She said Carstens had chosen not to testify in his defence, but having the right to do so did not mean there were no consequences for his silence.

She said the State only had an obligation to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt, which she had done, but the State had no obligation to prove the case “beyond any shadow of a doubt”.

The defence had disputed the validity of the blood test, from the manner in which the blood sample was taken to the analysis itself, but had not rebutted testimony to verify the accuracy of the procedure, she said.

Defence attorney Milton de la Harpe countered that nobody involved in the blood testing process followed the correct procedures, and for this reason their testimony had to be ruled unreliable and unacceptable.

He said the traffic officers who followed Carstens before stopping him were unable to even indicate where they first spotted him.

He said the officials had failed to do a sobriety test on Carstens and did not even know what this test entailed.

He said it took authorities longer than four months to analyse the blood sample.

“If the court condones the failure to do this correctly, it will not ensure that the correct procedures are carried out in future.”

He said laboratory staff had failed to follow procedures laid down by legislation.


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