Zuma’s son arrives for inquestComment on this story
Johannesburg - After failing to arrive at his scheduled court appearance last week, on Friday morning Duduzane Zuma was 40 minutes early for his newly arranged inquest date.
Striding into the Randburg Magistrate's Court accompanied by suit-clad men believed to either be part of his legal team or business associates, Zuma smiled as the team of photographers followed him into the building.
Zuma was set to appear at the Randburg Magistrate’s Court on Friday for a newly formalised inquest that would determine if he was criminally responsible for an accident that left 30-year-old Phumzile Dube dead and two others critically injured.
The accident occurred on February 1, after Zuma collided with a minibus taxi while driving his silver Porsche Sedan on the offramp of Grayston Drive.
The State also revealed last week how one of the other people injured in the minibus taxi, Jeanette Mashaba, had passed away, and suggested that a second inquest could be on the way for Zuma if Mashaba died from complications caused by injuries she sustained in the accident.
Last week, Zuma incurred the ire of Dube's family and the National Prosecuting Authority after failing to arrive for his first scheduled appearance.
Zuma claimed, through his legal representative, that he had not received the subpoena for the inquest, but this was little comfort to Dube's family, some of whom had travelled from as far as Zimbabwe to attend the inquest.
As she spoke last week of how Thembi had come to live with her in Zimbabwe, Dube’s mother, Edina, almost broke down in tears describing her daughter’s promising life in Johannesburg.
Dube was a chef at a Fourways restaurant, and had been coming home that night from the suburb when the accident robbed her of her life.
Edina said she was unsure of her own financial future without her daughter as the breadwinner, and whether she would be able to properly care for her three-year-old grandchild.
At the same time, NPA spokesman Nathi Mncube said he too was disappointed that Zuma had failed to pitch. He said that despite the subpoena being personally signed for by one of Zuma’s colleagues, the president’s son had claimed he hadn’t received the document, which was “disappointing”.
“A person lost her life, the least that one can do is show up,” said Mncube.
On Friday morning, while awaiting court proceedings, Zuma declined to comment about the inquest.
It's understood that Friday's proceedings will simply be an administrative matter to assign interpreters for the numerous witnesses and family of the deceased who will testify during the inquest.
Zuma's lawyer, Pieter van der Merwe, told the court on Friday morning that he had recommended that his client transfer the matter to another senior counsel. Van der Merwe withdrew as the attorney on record, and the position was taken over by Gary Mazaham.
Mazaham explained again that Zuma had not received his subpoena for the previous appearance and that his client had been totally unaware his presence was required in court.
Magistrate Lalita Chetty said that Zuma's appearance during the inquest proceedings was integral and “cannot be ignored”.
Legal Aid representatives were also assigned for the family of the deceased and the driver of the minibus taxi, Vusi Dlamini.
All parties confirmed that the entire docket had been distributed, and prosecutor Yusuf Baba said that digital, colour copies of these documents would be made available for any lawyers who would be calling witnesses. Baba also confirmed the State would not currently request a joint-inquest over the death of Jeanette Mashaba.
Arrangements for interpreters for all of the witnesses were also finalised.
The formal inquest was meant to continue on October 14, but this date was altered to November 4 as one of the Legal Aid attorneys was unavailable in October.