All witnesses in the drunken driving trial of former Ekurhuleni metro police chief Robert McBride concluded testifying in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.
The prosecution and defence agreed that arguments would begin on March 23.
On Thursday McBride’s wife Elizabeth took the stand, and denied that her husband was drunk when he crashed his state-owned vehicle on December 21 2006, on his way home after a metro police Christmas party at Hartbeesport Dam.
Most witnesses have testified that McBride was drunk because he slurred his words, had difficulty walking and smelled of alcohol.
However, medical expert Professor Antoine van Gelder testified earlier that, on the night the crash, and probably even days earlier, McBride suffered from hypoglycaemia, a condition caused by low blood sugar levels.
He testified that McBride’s breath could have smelled odd because of ketosis arising from this condition.
His wife told the court he occasionally had a “potent chemical smell”.
“It’s like you open a bottle of vodka. I got used to it over the years. There are problems generally linked to it. It meant he needed something to eat,” she told the court.
“Not all that meets the eye is exactly as it seems.”
Under cross-examination, Mrs McBride also denied that a fake medical certificate had been sought from a Mabopane doctor the night of her husband’s alleged drunken driving accident.
This was contrary to evidence presented by three of McBride’s former colleagues who have testified as state witnesses.
Stanley Sagathevan, Patrick Johnson and Itumeleng Koko, told the court they met at McBride’s house where they were instructed to get a fake certificate.
This letter was allegedly obtained from Dr Joseph Moratioa, who has since died.
“You were present when that happened?” state prosecutor Guido Penzhorn asked Mrs McBride.
She answered: “No”.
She said only Sagathevan was at her home on the night of crash on December 21 2006.
“Dr Moratioa examined my husband. I didn’t want a medical certificate from him, I wanted to know that my husband was okay; that he wouldn’t die,” she testified.
‘No proof of alcohol consumption’
She said a medical note was obtained from a Dr George Davis, who attended to McBride six days later at the Little Company of Mary Hospital in Pretoria.
He was taken there later after complaining of headaches which ran down his neck.
This was the first time the court had heard of Davis.
Asked if two medical certificates were issued, Mrs McBride said the one from Davis was the only one she was aware of.
“There is no engineering behind the note,” she said.
Moratioa had claimed that he examined McBride on the night of the accident.
According to his medical certificate, McBride was “sweaty”, “disorientated” and had low blood pressure, but there was “no proof of alcohol consumption”.
Before his death, Moratioa faced charges of fraud and defeating the ends of justice due to the alleged falsification of a medical certificate which was believed to have been issued to McBride without a medical examination.
Penzhorn’s application for disclosure of a statement by Moratioa was denied by magistrate Peet Van Vuuren.
“If the doctor told the truth, the accused wouldn’t have been charged … Mr Moratioa himself was charged for fraud … It’s like calling a witness we know will lie before the court,” he said.
McBride’s defence has argued that Moratioa did examine McBride on the night of the crash and that his medical condition and a concussion were behind his actions.
Mrs McBride told the court she received three phone calls from her husband that night, that he was “confused” and told her about the accident, but said he was still coming home.
She also described him as “in pain unsteady, shaky and sweaty”.
McBride faces charges of fraud, defeating the ends of justice and drunk driving. — Sapa