There could be more trouble on the horizon for disgraced businessman Sifiso Zulu after he failed to report to the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Friday.
While Zulu handed himself over a day later to prison authorities on Saturday, his actions would have far-reaching repercussions, including more charges, according to criminologist Professor Rudolph Zinn.
And on Friday afternoon a judge told Zulu to stop treating the legal process “like rubbish”, warning him to comply.
The Daily News reported last week that in terms of the prisoners’ sentence remission plan, Zulu could see up to 549 days (18 months) falling away from his effective three-year sentence for culpable homicide, reckless or negligent driving, failing to stop at a red traffic light and failing to stop after an accident.
“Zulu might no longer qualify for the remission of sentence,” said Zinn, referring to the April 27 announcement by President Jacob Zuma.
Zinn said the sentence might also have to be reviewed and future parole applications would “definitely” be negatively affected because he had not handed himself over in time.
“Because Zulu had defied a court order, he could also possibly be charged with contempt of court,” he said. “Police will also have to investigate the reasons for him not handing himself over... This means opening a new case docket and an additional hearing.”
He said that because two years of Zulu’s sentence had been suspended, the conditions attached to the suspension would have to be re-examined as Zulu might have broken them.
Department of Correctional Services spokeswoman, Nokuthula Zikhali, said that she could not confirm whether Zulu would face any punishment. But the department would be scrutinising the court documents, she said.
“We need to look at all the details before we go any further,” Zikhali said. “We’ll be able to confirm what the next step is (this morning).”
Zulu’s conviction and sentence were confirmed by the Pietermaritzburg High Court on May 4, but he failed to report to authorities to begin serving his jail term, claiming that neither he nor his attorney had been informed of the judgment.
An order of surrender was issued and served on Zulu on Wednesday morning last week, giving him 48 hours – by Friday morning – to hand himself over.
But the Sunday Tribune reported yesterday that the former president of the Durban Chamber of Commerce partied late into the night on Friday at his luxury rented flat in the Point Bastille building and, on Saturday, when police arrived at his flat with a court warrant for his arrest, they had been told he was not there. Police caught up with him only later that day.
In Zulu’s legal manoeuvres, he brought an urgent bail application late on Friday afternoon before Judge Piet Koen, but was slammed for not respecting the court and treating the legal process “like rubbish”.
Koen described Zulu’s last- minute bail application as ill-conceived and warned Zulu that he was obliged to comply with the notice of surrender that was served on him on Wednesday, and if he failed to do so, this would automatically make him a fugitive from justice.
NPA spokeswoman Natasha Ramkisson, said the issue of whether Zulu defied a court order by reporting to prison authorities on Saturday and not on Friday, would only be known on Friday. He was expected then to come before the Pietermaritzburg High Court for a decision on his application for leave to appeal his sentence and conviction.
“It will be too premature to say anything at this stage. Only the judge can decide whether he defied the court order or not.”
Police confirmed on Friday that a warrant for Zulu’s arrest had been issued after he had left the Pietermaritzburg High Court, driving a white Range Rover with no registration plates.
Zulu’s bail application was adjourned indefinitely to allow his legal team to file supplementary papers.
His team filed papers in the high court on Wednesday for his R15 000 bail to be extended. And it sought leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal against Koen’s confirmation of his conviction and sentence by a magistrate.
Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Willies Mchunu welcomed Zulu’s imprisonment.
“This is clear evidence that our courts are now taking seriously cases relating to transgressions of the road regulations,” said Mchunu. “One can only hope that the finalisation of this long-dragging case will bring closure to families of the victims.
“We hope this case will be a lesson to all motorists to respect the rule of law.” - Daily News