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A policeman testifying in Major-General Bethuel Mondli Zuma’s drunken driving trial in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court was on Monday accused by the defence of tailoring his evidence to bolster the State’s case.
Attorney Sergie Brimiah said to warrant officer Bonginkosi Gwaza that it would explain why his testimony had deviated from a written statement he had made.
Zuma is charged with drunk driving, escaping from custody, defeating the administration of justice and failure to comply with the instructions of a traffic officer on December 19, 2008.
He was appointed as Gauteng’s provincial police commissioner in August, but the position was withdrawn hours later when the details of the case against him emerged.
It was alleged that Zuma failed to stop at a roadblock and had been chased to a house in Pelham.
Gwaza told the court he was in the area attending to another complaint when a traffic officer approached him for assistance. He was told that traffic officers had tried to stop a white vehicle, but it had failed to stop. They then followed it to Abbot Road, Pelham, and did a breathalyser test on the driver who ran into the house afterwards.
Brimiah said to Gwaza that a statement he made in August 2009 said that a traffic officer had told him that while at a roadblock, an “African male was tested for alcohol”, and he then drove away from the scene. The suspect was chased to Abbot Road.
“The question is, why is there a discrepancy in the two versions?” Gwaza failed to respond. Magistrate Reard Abrahams intervened and explained what Brimiah wanted to find out.
Gwaza said: “That’s all I recall”. He had trouble explaining to the court why his statement and testimony were different. However, under re-examination by the State prosecutor, he said the version in his statement was correct.
The State has two more witnesses to call.
The case continues on Tueday.