Yen­geni de­fence lawyer makes wit­ness sweat

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - FA­TIMA SCHROEDER

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.

PIC­TURE: MICHAEL WALKER

IN­SCRUTABLE: Tony Yen­geni leaves the Cape Town Mag­is­trate’s Court.

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