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15 Oct 2008 18:05
Pretoria High Court Judge Nkola Motata smelled like alcohol and stammered when he spoke on the night of his car accident, a metro police officer told the judge’s drunken-driving trial on Wednesday.
“I can’t say whether he was sober or not. However, I can say that there was some alcohol that smelled from him,” metro police officer Moatlhodi Daniel Madibo told the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court.
At the scene of the accident on January 6 2007, after Motata crashed his Jaguar into the perimeter wall of a Hurlingham property, he was “speaking like stammering”.
Madibo said that when he arrived at the scene with his partner, Motata refused to get out of his car.
Madibo opened the door twice, but Motata closed it each time, until eventually Madibo put his foot in the way.
He then handcuffed Motata and took him to a metro police car, in which he was taken to the Hillbrow district surgeon for a blood test.
Madibo said Motata told him at the time of his arrest that he would sue the metro police.
He said Motata also told him that the accident happened when he was trying to reverse because he got lost.
Madibo said that when they arrived in Hillbrow, the judge told him he should not have been arrested, but rather have settled the matter with the owner of the property.
“He also said the owner of the wall into which he crashed into, he would have spoken to him and fixed the wall and it would have ended there.”
Earlier, prosecutor Zaais van Zyl rejected an accusation that he had threatened a witness.
Van Zyl asked that it be placed on record that he denied the accusation contained in an affidavit. On Tuesday, magistrate Desmond Nair said the affidavit was made an exhibit for reference only and would not carry evidential weight.
This week metro police officer and witness Paulinah Mashilela alleged she was told by the prosecution that she would lose her job and go to jail for a long time. She also said she was given notes by the state that told her what to say while giving her evidence-in-chief in September, an instruction she says she ignored.
On Wednesday, Mashilela said most answers attributed to her in a set of notes made after a consultation with the state were not hers.
Nair told Van Zyl if he wanted to prove that the consultation notes—which Mashilela now distanced herself from—were in fact true, the prosecution could not be run by him.
Gauteng director of public prosecutions Charin de Beer consulted briefly with Van Zyl, after which Van Zyl said his instructions were to stay on the case.
The line of questioning about the authenticity of the consultation notes was not pursued.
Previously, the defence and state clashed over whether Van Zyl could defend the allegations that he had coached Mashilela.
“Mr van Zyl has now become a witness in his own case, a case in which he is a prosecutor,” said defence advocate Danie Dorfling.
On Wednesday, Dorfling said that while it was important to address the allegations, the trial proceedings were not the “open forum” to do so.
Van Zyl said the allegations against him were so serious that they “can go to the heart of the case”.
“Is this a no-trial? Can we go on with this trial?” he asked.
He said if had coached a witness, “I should leave this case in the blink of an eye, I should not practise law”.
Also cross-examined by the defence on Wednesday was expert witness Professor Michael Stewart.
Stewart was questioned about quality control measures that accompany “back extrapolation”.
Stewart said during previous testimony that this was the method used to determine that Motata’s blood-alcohol level could have been between 0,23g and 0,26g at the time of the crash—four times over the legal limit.
On Wednesday, Stewart conceded to defence questioning that he did not consider Motata’s alleged drinking pattern, type or quantity of alcohol consumed, rate of Motata’s gastric emptying or metabolism in conducting the extrapolation.
Motata is facing a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, with an alternate charge of driving with an excess of alcohol in his blood, or reckless or negligent driving.
He also faces a charge of defeating the ends of justice with an alternate charge of resisting arrest.—Sapa
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