Yengeni defence lawyer makes witness sweat
THOSE “in authority” were putting words into the mouths of State witnesses against ANC veteran Tony Yengeni at his drunk driving trial yesterday, suggested his defence lawyer.
Dirk Uijs SC was crossexamining Metro Police officer Kurt Buckton on the first day of Yengeni’s trial in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court, where the former ANC chief whip pleaded not guilty to charges of reckless or negligent driving, and driving under the influence of alcohol.
Buckton, with his colleague Bradley Adams, arrested Yengeni in August 2013 on the corner of Dixon and Somerset roads, Green Point.
He saw that Yengeni’s eyes were bloodshot, he was unsteady on his feet, and his breath smelled of alcohol.
Buckton breathalysed Yengeni and then arrested him.
Along with a third colleague, the Metro police drove Yengeni to Cape Town Police Station before taking him to give a blood sample.
On the way Yengeni told them that he would not have been arrested if he was in Johannesburg, and that “this isn’t what I fought for in the past”.
However, it emerged that few of these details were recorded in a statement he made immediately after Yengeni’s arrest. The brief statement made no mention of the breathalyser test, the alleged remarks that Yengeni made in the car, or the trip for the blood test.
After about 10 months Buckton was asked to give a second, more detailed statement, but once again he failed to mention the extra details.
Buckton said he had excluded the details because the arresting officer, identified only as Sergeant Gumba, put them in his statement. “We were merely there to assist.”
But Uijs said Buckton read Gumba’s statement after he had completed his own.
Buckton conceded that the way Yengeni spoke at the time of his arrest and his ability to understand what had been happening were not indicative of drunkenness.
Buckton also conceded that rather than being unsteady on his feet, Yengeni had swayed from left to right.
Cross-examination became heated when Buckton said he had been told that Yengeni incited bouncers from nearby club Cubana to become riotous. He was not able to say who told him that.
Uijs said: “I put it to you that you are giving evidence which you know that those in authority want from you.”
Adams, Buckton’s partner, was the State’s second witness.
Adams told the court that Yengeni had appeared steady on his feet. But he said this did not mean Yengeni was not drunk.
Adams did not mention the remarks Yengeni allegedly made in the car. He testified that Yengeni spoke to Gumba in Xhosa during the drive, and he could not understand the conversation.
Earlier yesterday Uijs told magistrate Grant Engel that he would set out to prove that Yengeni’s constitutional rights to privacy were violated when his blood sample was taken, and that the officer who took him to a registered nurse was not a police official as defined in the Criminal Procedure Act.
Yengeni was also arrested for drunk driving in 2007, but was later acquitted after it was found his blood sample had been tampered with.
The trial continues on December 11.
INSCRUTABLE: Tony Yengeni leaves the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court.