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Durban - A woman who was disabled almost six years ago when Durban socialite, Sifiso Zulu, drove his luxury SUV through a red traffic light while drunk,
has slammed his attempts at reconciliation as his “get-out-of-jail-free card”.
Zulu came face-to-face with Dudu Ngema at the parole board’s offices at Westville Prison on Tuesday and tendered his apology.
But Ngema, 34, who walks with a cane after her spine was injured in the crash that killed two students, told the Daily News later: “Sorry, I cannot accept that.”
She described the meeting with Zulu as “awful”. “It did not mean anything to me,” she said of the apology.
“A lot of things were covered up from the day of the crash right up until now.
“If he wants me to accept his apology he must come clean about all the details, including why he lied about causing the crash that left me disabled. Maybe then I may consider forgiving him…”
She confirmed her husband, who had accompanied her, had accepted the apology, but said she did not know why.
“Maybe it’s because he was not affected physically. For me, looking at my disabled legs and walking stick is a daily reminder of what happened six years ago.”
She said she also believed that Zulu’s early parole - he is expected to be released on Monday - was a favoured move.
“He should have served his full sentence. But, to me he is once again getting special favours by getting out on parole,” she said.
“How can I then believe his apology is sincere? I did not want to see him.
“But, I tried. I wanted to forgive him. I just can’t find it in my heart. Maybe time will heal my wounds, or maybe it won’t. I don’t know. But, I can’t say, ‘yes I forgive him’, just to make him feel better.”
Ngema said Zulu told her that he had lied because he was scared of going to prison.
“I believe that. But, he is apologising now only because he is scared to spend another two years in jail. It’s his get-out-of-jail-free card. Sorry, I cannot accept that.”
Ngema, 34, of Nagina near Mariannhill, said: “It crippled both my legs. I walk with a stick. My left leg is almost lifeless. I cannot drive or run around with my child. My life will never be the same.”
Ngema is a personal assistant and relies on public transport.
Zulu began his journey to seek forgiveness from Ngema, and the families of the two dead students, late last year. Correctional Services chaplain, Thandazani Nzuza, and social worker, Nozipho Magwaza, helped him.
Nzuza, who accompanied Zulu from Sevontein Prison to Durban, said the meeting with Ngema yesterday had gone well and had “ended on a high note”.
“When Sifiso saw Mrs Ngema and her disability he was very emotional. It was a painful moment for him and her,” he said. “But, he is determined to reconcile with all those he caused harm to.” Nzuza said, in his eyes, Zulu was a changed man.
“While this may be very difficult for many to come to grips with, it is the truth.
“Sifiso is now sober minded and he has fully accepted responsibility for his actions. Asking why he did not accept responsibility from the word go, will not help,” he said.
Nzuza said at first it was very difficult for Ngema to look at Zulu, or accept his apology.
“It was difficult for both of them. One does not blame her. She has been scarred physically and emotionally. Her disability is a constant reminder of the crash.
“But, we managed to counsel her and get her to accept that Sifiso was trying to reconcile with all the victims. She understood his intentions and hopes in time to fully forgive him for what had happened. She needs time.”
He said Ngema had said she was still looking for closure.
“But, I am optimistic that she will find that closure soon and fully accept Sifiso’s apology.”
Through the victim-offender dialogue programme, Zulu admitted he drove the vehicle. Throughout his trial, he had denied this.
In an interview with the Daily News, he said the truth had set him free.
Later this week, the parole board is expected to give Zulu’s case a final review.
Nzuza said they were hoping to arrange a final meeting with all the victims and their families in coming days, before Zulu was released.
“He just wants to tell them, for a second time, that he is sorry.”