Johannesburg - Some of Phumzile Dube’s family had travelled from as far as Zimbabwe to see the man who may have caused her death.
But when the man – none other than President Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane – didn’t pitch up for the inquest that would determine if he was criminally responsible for Dube’s death, the disappointment showed on their faces.
Duduzane Zuma was meant to be present at the Randburg Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday at the inquest that would determine if he was in the wrong during an accident that left Dube dead and two others critically injured.
The accident occurred on February 1 after Zuma collided with a minibus taxi while driving his silver Porsche sedan on the Grayston Drive off-ramp in Sandton.
But, after more than an hour on Tuesday morning, 31-year-old Zuma failed to arrive at the court, disappointing the family and evoking the disapproval of the National Prosecuting Authority.
Zuma’s lawyer, Pieter van der Merwe, told the court his millionaire client had not received notice of the inquest proceedings, and had been at a meeting in Pretoria, meaning he could not attend.
Frowning, senior State prosecutor Yusuf Baba told the court that numerous witnesses and the family of the victim had travelled from as far as Marikana and Brits to attend. The inconvenience and cost to them was grossly unfair, he said.
The investigating officer, Jimmy Ngobeni, was called on to explain why a colleague of the president’s son had been allowed to sign for the subpoena on July 25, which he had promised to deliver to him. But the officer said he had not double-checked if Zuma had received the document.
Magistrate Lalita Chetty said the only reason she would not be issuing a warrant of arrest for Zuma was because of the possibility that he had not received the court’s notice. However, she told Van der Merwe she would be more than willing to issue such an order if Zuma did not appear at the provisional appearance on Friday next week.
The court also heard how one of the other commuters in the minibus taxi, Jeanette Mashaba, had died.
Chetty suggested that a second inquest could be on the way for Zuma if Mashaba died from complications caused by injuries she sustained in the accident.
But the stern warning for Zuma and his lawyer was little comfort to Dube’s family, who described how the 30-year-old was the breadwinner for her 3-year-old son Thembi.
As she spoke of how Thembi had come to live with her in Zimbabwe, Dube’s mother Edina nearly broke down while describing her daughter’s promising life in Joburg.
Dube was a chef at a Fourways restaurant, and was on her way home the night the accident claimed her life.
Edina said she was unsure of her financial future without her daughter as breadwinner, and whether she would be able to care sufficiently for her 3-year-old grandchild.
The driver of the taxi, Vusi Dlamini, told The Star he just wanted the case to be over, and was disappointed at Zuma’s no-show.
Meanwhile, NPA spokesman Nathi Mncube expressed his discontent that Zuma had failed to attend. Despite the subpoena being personally signed for by one of Zuma’s colleagues, the president’s son had claimed he had not received the document, which was “rather disappointing”. “A person lost her life; the least that one can do is show up,” Mncube said.
He said the State was keen to issue a warrant of arrest for Zuma. But if he really had not received the subpoena, this would have led to legal complications for the State.
Zuma’s presence is needed next Friday so that preparations for the inquest, which is set down for four days in October, can be finalised.
Duduzane: fame and fortune
Duduzane Zuma is the son of President Jacob Zuma and his third wife, Kate Mantsho, who died in December 2000.
In 2011, it was reported that Duduzane was a director and shareholder – alongside Tony Gupta – of Mabengela Investments.
The Sunday Times also wrote that same year that the young Zuma was a shareholder in the deal with China Railway Construction Corporation that placed his company in line to cash in on a R550 billion government rail infrastructure project.
However, little else has been reported about Duduzane’s rise to entrepreneurial success, but three years ago, he told City Press that he would have most likely been more successful had his last name not been Zuma.
“It has been a millstone (around my neck) for a long time,” he said.
Reports from earlier this decade focused more on Duduzane’s flashy lifestyle and fleet of luxury cars than his business acumen.