Cape Town -
It was highly unlikely that an intoxicated person - four times over the legal limit and who could not remember “half of his arrest” - could recall just one sentence, the Equality Court heard on Tuesday.
It was even more improbable given that Phila Mnyanda, a navy chef, neither spoke nor understood Afrikaans, the language used by police officer Zelda Bussey to allegedly insult him.
This was the argument of advocate Fatimah Essop, for Bussey, in an attempt to have Judge Elizabeth Baartman dismiss Mnyanda’s claim of hate speech against her client.
On the morning of August 23, 2011, Bussey and her partner arrested Mnyanda for alleged drunk driving.
She is alleged to have said: “Die k***** dink hy is slim. Ek sal hom uitsort. (This k***** thinks he’s smart. I’ll sort him out).”
Bussey is alleged to have used the words while her partner was arresting the “unco-operative” navy chef. It is Mnyanda’s case that he was injured at the back of a “recklessly” driven police vehicle which he claimed was Bussey’s way of “sorting him out”.
In her closing arguments in court on Tuesday,, Essop asked Judge Baartman to dismiss Mnyanda’s case with costs because he was not a credible witness and he had lied on the stand. She said when his blood was tested for alcohol it “registered 0.20g per 100ml, four times the legal limit of 0.05g per 100ml”.
Essop said because of his state of alleged intoxication, Mnyanda could not remember being driven to the Cape Town Central Police Station or half of the arrest.
“Why should the court accept that this alleged conversation took place?” Essop asked.
She argued that the reason for Mnyanda taking Bussey to court, three years after the incident, was so he could have his drunk driving charge withdrawn.
Mnyanda had filed application papers for the Equality Court on September 13, the same day his drunk driving case was remanded for trial, Essop said.
She said a possible conviction in that matter, which would have been his second, would have added a blemish to his career as a navy officer.
Mnyanda had lied in court about a previous drunk driving conviction in Steenberg, Essop said.
But advocate Graham Taylor, representing Mnyanda, argued that his client was not aware at the time that he had been convicted of the charge.
Taylor painted Bussey and her partner, Constable Patrick Lottering’s, testimonies as unreliable because they were “carbon copies of one another”. He said their testimonies were “rehearsed and were not credible”.
Taylor said Mnyanda’s memory of events was “cognitive” despite his degree of alleged intoxication.
Judge Baartman reserved judgment.