It is unlikely that Duduzane Zuma was driving at a high speed when his Porsche 911 Turbo crashed into a minibus taxi killing a woman, forensic engineer and accident reconstruction expert Konrad Lotter told the Randburg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.
Duduzane, son of former president Jacob Zuma, faces a culpable homicide charge after his car crashed into the taxi just after the Grayston Drive off-ramp on the M1 in Sandton, killing Phumzile Dube.
Lotter corroborated the defence’s argument that Zuma’s Porsche had lost control after it had hit a puddle of water.
He said it was possible that the vehicle lost control due to aquaplaning. It was not necessary that it would have done so at an excessive speed, Lotter testified.
Aquaplaning is when a car’s tyres lose contact with the road due to surface water.
Based on the results from his calculations, the taxi and the Porsche seemed to have been travelling at the same speed, said Lotter.
He based this on where both vehicles ended up following the collision.
According to Lotter’s calculations, the two vehicles were doing about 87km/h. Zuma earlier testified that he was doing around 90-100km/h just before the crash.
Lotter added that if Zuma was speeding, the vehicle would not have come to a standstill where it did following the crash.
An eyewitness, Michael Jankelowitz, a self-described sports car fanatic, also testified.
He corroborated the defensce’s account that Zuma was not speeding.
Jankelowitz told the court that prior to the accident, about 5km from the crash site, Zuma had driven past him. They were driving in the same direction.
“Certainly the speed was not excessive at all, in my opinion, as I was able to even see the number plate. I had time to actually see the number plate and see the car pass me.
“The car did not speed past me, it passed me with the flowing traffic,” he testified.
He said after the Porsche had overtaken him, he later saw that there was an accident ahead.
Jankelowitz said as he drove past he noticed that the car involved was the same Porsche that had overtaken him.
He recalled seeing the taxi at a standstill on a yellow line with passengers disembarking.
“Three days later, to my shock, I heard on 702 [radio] about this accident which occurred on the same night I was travelling and there was a Porsche involved,” he said.
‘I knew Gerrie Nel was coming for blood’
Jankelowitz said the radio show host had described that the Porsche was speeding, and he felt that that was not true and had decided to call in and give his account as the host was “exaggerating”.
However, prosecutor Yusuf Baba questioned why Jankelowitz had waited all this time before coming forward and why he had gone to the defence and not the State or police during the time of the (initial) inquest.
“I think it was towards the end of 2017 where I read in the papers that Mr Gerrie Nel was going to be prosecuting this case and I knew Mr Nel was going to be going for blood and I just felt that whoever it was [Porsche driver] was not going to be getting a fair trial and I was prepared to come forward with my statement, because I was on the scene,” he said.
He said he then reached out to Zuma’s lawyers and gave his account of the events of that fatal night. He felt it was the right thing to do to help Zuma from not being “victimised”.
“I felt that Mr Zuma was not going to get a fair trial with Gerrie Nel as a prosecutor. That is my own personal opinion,” he replied.
Reports in 2017 had surfaced that AfriForum’s private prosecuting unit would pursue the culpable homicide case against Zuma. Former prosecutor Gerrie Nel had joined the lobby group in 2017.
The matter was postponed to June 20 for closing arguments.
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