The trial of Duduzane Zuma has resumed in the Randburg Magistrate’s Court today, as the son of former President Jacob Zuma faces two charges in Gauteng. The businessman slammed his Porsche 911 into the back of a taxi – back in 2014 – killing at least one person in the process.
Phumzile Dube died on impact, leaving behind a young child. Nankie Mashaba, another passenger in the taxi, died a few weeks later in hospital. However, it has been difficult to ascertain whether her death was caused by the crash.
What we know about the crash
Duduzane Zuma has always maintained that he tried to stop his vehicle in time and stated he’d kept a safe distance from the vehicle in front. He blames his wheels for “aquaplaning” on a puddle in the road, but experts have so far failed to prove that particular stretch had been flooded or affected by adverse weather conditions.
The case looks set to come to a conclusion this week, with Friday being the last day of deliberations. Following that, the judge is likely to reserve any verdict until a later date, after weighing up the various evidence and testimonies presented. This case was initially dropped by the NPA, before AfriForum resurrected it as a private prosecution.
What is Duduzane Zuma charged with
For reckless and negligent driving alone, it is possible to land yourself behind bars. The court will have to assess factors such as previous offences and whether Duduzane offered ample support after causing the carnage.
A six-month sentence can be handed down on this charge, but it usually comes with an alternative to fine offenders. Given the deep pockets of the Zuma family, it’s likely Duduzane Zuma would take a hit to his finances rather than his freedom (if the option is presented).
Duduzane Zuma could face jail time
Culpable homicide, however, brings a much more severe punishment with it. The maximum sentence he could face on this charge is a 15-year jail sentence. The term – which became synonymous with the Oscar Pistorius trial – is also known as “manslaughter” in the US and UK.
A majority of contemporary verdicts of Culpable Homicide in South Africa have only received lesser prison sentences, such as four years’ imprisonment (Mapipa vs The State), five years’ imprisonment (Nikelo vs The State) or eight years’ imprisonment (The State vs Nesane). Pistorius was eventually charged with murder and given 13 years.
However, a mix of both charges can land any South African citizen with decades behind bars. In 2017, one negligent motorist was found guilty on three counts of culpable homicide and reckless driving. He was eventually slapped with a 20-year jail sentence.
This almost certainly won’t be the fate that befalls Duduzane Zuma, but a substantial stint in prison is far from a distant prospect. Ignoring his political connections and influence, the letter of the law suggests that any conviction could be a serious threat to DZ’s freedom.