State: Nqakula's son guilty of driving under influence

Siyabonga Nqakula, the son of the Minister of Safety and Security, should be convicted on charges of drunken driving and reckless or negligent driving, the state told the Cape Town magistrate’s court on Tuesday.

In his closing argument before magistrate Phindi Norman, prosecutor Titi Mthimunye recounted the testimony of four state witnesses that Nqakula had smelled of liquor, that he had been unsteady on his feet and that his eyes were bloodshot.

This was when police encountered him at the scene of a head-on collision in the Cape Town CBD on the night of March 29 2007.

Mthimunye said the burden of proof did not require expert testimony about whether Nqakula was sober or under the influence of liquor at the time of the collision.

Mthimunye said the testimony of ordinary people who saw Nqakula at the collision scene was sufficient.

Nqakula had driven with his brother and two friends through the night from Johannesburg to Cape Town, for last year’s jazz festival, and the four had visited friends all day after their arrival in Cape Town, without any sleep or rest.

Nqakula had, prior to the late-night collision, consumed two cocktail glasses of champagne during dinner in a restaurant, and a third in the Cape Town CBD before falling asleep behind the wheel of his mother’s car, causing it to veer onto the wrong side of the road and smash head-on into an oncoming car.

The prosecutor said Nqakula’s own testimony had supported that of state witnesses, that he had consumed liquor that night, although he disputed that he was intoxicated.

Mthimunye said: “If the court considers the quantity of champagne that he drank, together with the fact that he was not an experienced drinker, and the fact that he had driven such a long distance and had had no sleep for 26 hours, then, in my submission, he was under the influence of liquor.”

The prosecutor contended that the fact that Nqakula had continued to drive without having a rest, also made him guilty of reckless driving.

The argument continues. - Sapa

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