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Officer denies bolstering State’s case

The arresting officer of the driver in the car crash that killed 13-year-old Zenani Mandela denied on Wednesday that he tried to bolster the State's case in a statement submitted five months after the accident.

Sergeant Rudolf Potsane told the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court that he did not include the reasons why he suspected the driver of the car was drunk in his arrest statement, made within three hours of the arrest of Sizwe Mankazana.

Zoleka Seakamela, Mandela's granddaughter, leaving the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court. Photo: Mujahid Safodien. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

This was because these details would be covered in the operator's statement, submitted the same day.

Defence attorney Ken Oldwadge referred the court to the operator statement, signed by Potsane, and pointed out that these details were also absent from this statement.

Potsane said the details were unimportant because they were suspicions, and the Drager test confirmed Mankazana was over the legal alcohol limit. This fact – upon which the arrest was based – overrode his suspicions.

Potsane submitted another report five months later, in which he stated that Mankazana had bloodshot eyes and sluggish speech.

Oldwadge asked: “Why was it necessary to make a statement detailing your suspicions five months after, if it was never necessary?” This implied Potsane was trying to “bolster” the case against Mankazana, he claimed.

Potsane denied this.

Mankazana, 25, faces charges of culpable homicide and reckless or negligent driving after the 2010 crash which claimed the teenager's life.

Zenani, the great-granddaughter of former president Nelson Mandela, was asleep on the back seat of the car when it crashed. Her mother is Zoleka, the daughter of Zindzi Mandela.

The vehicle veered out of control on the M1 North just before a double-decker highway that bypasses the city.

Mankazana was taking Zenani home after a World Cup concert at Orlando Stadium in Soweto when the accident happened.

They were in a Mercedes-Benz CLS500.

Oldwadge asked Potsane whether he recorded the reasons that he suspected Mankazana was drunk in the regulation pocketbook which metro police officers were obliged to carry.

Potsane said he did not because he was not in charge of the investigation but was only helping the accident investigator. The pocketbook had since been misplaced.

Oldwadge asked whether Potsane had read Mankazana his rights at the time of the arrest.

Potsane said he did, but when asked whether this included the right to consult a medical professional, he said he could not recall.

Oldwadge requested an adjournment so that the court could obtain a copy of the pocketbook, as it was potentially a critical aspect.

The case resumes at 2pm. – Sapa

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