Durban - Major-General Bethuel Mondli Zuma, the man who was almost Gauteng’s police commissioner until it was discovered he was facing criminal charges, is off the hook on charges of drunk driving and defeating the ends of justice.
However, he is still facing two charges after his application for a discharge was partly successful in the Pietermaritzburg District Court on Tuesday.
Zuma took the stand after the ruling to testify on the remaining charges, escaping from custody and failing to comply with the instructions of a traffic officer, of which magistrate Reard Abrahams said there was a prima facie case against him.
Acquitting Zuma of the drunk driving charge, Abrahams said there was no evidence that he had consumed alcohol or that his faculties were impaired, and of the other, he said Zuma was wrongly charged and should have been charged under the national Road Traffic Act for refusing to give a specimen of blood or breath, and not with defeating the ends of justice.
Taking the stand, Zuma stuck to his version of events.
He said that at midnight on December 19, 2008, he did not stop at a roving alcohol roadblock in Alexandra Road because he believed the traffic police were not legitimate.
His wife and daughter were passengers.
He said he drove cautiously past a traffic officer - who walked into the middle of the road from under a tree - to avoid knocking him down, and continued to drive carefully in case someone was waiting ahead to shoot at them.
At all times he looked in his mirrors and was not followed.
Zuma said he arrived at his destination, a house in Pelham, and went inside where he and his family settled in.
Zuma later heard a commotion and saw traffic officers and police on the veranda.
Traffic officer Kerwin Johansen asked why he had not stopped, and he explained.
He also alleged that the proper procedures to carry out a roadblock were not followed as there were no police signs such as cones on the road.
Johansen was unhappy and said he was “going to show me who the criminal was between me and him”.
Zuma said that another officer, Aboo Essop Aboobaker, told Johansen to breathalyse him and he asked “for what”.
Zuma was told by Johansen that he would have to pay for his vehicle, which had been towed away, to be released.
Both men walked towards Johansen’s vehicle and Zuma was taken to the police station where he was charged.
He said that at no stage was he placed under arrest.
Under cross-examination, prosecutor Kwazi Zimu accused Zuma several times of being evasive, but Zuma insisted that he was answering the questions.
Zuma was asked why some of the things he told the court had not been put to witnesses during their cross-examination, for instance why the traffic officers had not been asked if they had emerged from under a tree. He was also asked why he had not initially told the court he was getting ready for bed when he heard the commotion outside.
Zuma said he did not give details of everything that happened that night.
Argument takes place on December 10.