JOHANNESBURG – A politically influential son of former President Jacob Zuma of South Africa was cleared of culpable homicide on Friday in a case that has been seen as a proxy for factional battles within the governing African National Congress.
The charges against the son, Duduzane Zuma, also included negligent and reckless driving in connection with a crash in February 2014, when his sports car – a Porsche 911 Turbo – hit and minibus in Johannesburg. One minibus passenger died, and several other people were injured.
Delivering his judgment in a courtroom court, Magistrate Tebogo Thupaatlase said that the state had failed to prove Mr. Zuma's guilt in the trial
The head of prosecutions, Shaun Abrahams, became known in the local news media as Shaun the Sheep
The state reversed course and brought homicide charges against Mr. Zuma in 2018, shortly after South Africa's current president, Cyril Ramaphosa, ousted his father from office. Prosecutors separately charged the younger Mr. Zuma in a high-level bribery scandal, although that case was dropped earlier this year.
Duduzane Zuma was a close business associate of the Gupta family, Indian business magnates at the center of a national corruption scandal.
After his father was president of the governing African National Congress in 2007 – and then president of South Africa two years later – Duduzane Zuma started rising within the Guptas sprawling business empire, which spanned the technology, media and mining sectors. Within three years, Mr. Zuma had been appointed director of 11 Gupta-owned companies.
After crashing his Porsche, according to leaked emails obtained by local news outlets, the first person Mr. Zuma contacted one of the Gupta brothers.
The family of the deceased woman, Phumzile Dube, traveled to Johannesburg from their home in Zimbabwe for the trial. After the judgment, Ms. Dube's mother, Adina Dube, told local reporters: “My daughter is dead and she is not coming back.”
The Dube family had supported a bid by AfriForum, a conservative group that usually advocates for white minority rights, to force the state to prosecute Mr. Zuma. Last year, the organization launched a private prosecution unless the state took action.
But the move appeared to have backfired among some South Africans, who wrote AfriForum's actions to a racist attack on the Zuma family.
Jacob Zuma , who is facing corruption charges of his own, indicating the judgment on Friday in support of his son. On Monday, the former president will appear for the first time in a wide-ranging inquiry into "state capture," or corruption at the highest levels of government.
With a characteristic laugh, Jacob Zuma is a reporter from the South African Broadcasting Corporation that was pleased with the trial's outcome. Speaking in Zulu added that he would attend next week's hearings to comment on the corruption allegations against him.
Ralph Mathekga, a prominent analyst and author of "Ramaphosa's Turn: Can Cyril Save South Africa? ”Said the case has taken on a strong symbolic meaning. "It's about whether South Africa is the page on the Zuma dynasty," he said.
In an interview just before the verdict was announced, Mr. Added that the ruling would be subject to criticism regardless of the outcome, reflecting the extent of the fractures within the A.N.C. and the way those divisions have eroded trust in public institutions.
"Can the criminal justice system function in a way that can be seen as free of political influence?" Mathekga.