Johannesburg - After failing to arrive in court last week in connection with an accident that left one person dead and two critically injured, Duduzane Zuma was 40 minutes early this morning – only to learn his lawyer was dropping him.
Striding into the Randburg Magistrate’s Court accompanied by men in dark suits believed to either be part of his legal team or business associates, President Jacob Zuma’s son smiled as press photographers followed him into the building.
Zuma appeared at the court today for a newly formalised inquest that would determine whether he was criminally responsible for an accident with a minibus taxi that left 30-year-old Phumzile Dube dead and two others critically injured.
His lawyer, Pieter van der Merwe, told the court he had recommended that his client transfer the matter to another senior counsel.
Van der Merwe withdrew as the attorney on record, and the position was taken over by Gary Mazaham.
Mazaham explained that Zuma had not received his subpoena for the previous appearance and that he (Zuma) was unaware his presence was required in court.
But magistrate Lalita Chetty said Zuma’s appearance during the inquest proceedings was integral and “cannot be ignored”.
Legal Aid lawyers were assigned for Dube’s family and the driver of the taxi, Vusi Dlamini.
All parties confirmed that the docket had been distributed, and prosecutor Yusuf Baba said copies of these documents would be made available to any lawyer who would be calling witnesses.
The formal inquest was meant to continue on October 14, but this date was altered to November 4 because one of the Legal Aid attorneys was unavailable in October.
The accident occurred on February 1 after Zuma collided with the taxi while driving his silver Porsche on the Grayston Drive off-ramp in Sandton.
The State also revealed last week that one of the other people injured in the taxi, Jeanette Mashaba, had died, suggesting a second inquest could be instituted if Mashaba died from complications caused by injuries she sustained in the accident.
Baba also confirmed the State would not request a joint inquest over the death of Mashaba.
Last week, Zuma incurred the ire of Dube’s family and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) after failing to arrive for his first scheduled appearance.
Zuma claimed through his legal representative that he had not received the subpoena for the inquest, but this was little comfort to Dube’s family, some of whom had travelled from Zimbabwe to attend the inquest.
This morning, while awaiting court proceedings, Zuma declined to comment on the inquest.