A RACEHORSE owner and betting agent was on Wednesday found guilty of assault for spilling whisky on South African President Jacob Zuma at the Vodacom Durban July Handicap last year.
Magistrate Guguletu Mpikeleli, who convicted Daryl Peense, rejected defence complaints about heavy handedness by Zuma’s security, saying they were only doing their job -- which was to "over-react".
The Durban Magistrates' Court heard that Peense deliberately spilt the drink on Zuma from a balcony as the President walked underneath him.
Zuma's bodyguard, constable Funani Nemaenzhe, told the court he saw Peense pour a drink from a balcony on to the President's entourage.
Peense, a racehorse owner and businessman from Alberton, Johannesburg, testified that in the pushing and shoving on a crowded balcony he accidentally spilt some of his whisky as Zuma and his entourage were passing below, but insisted it did not touch him.
Magistrate Mpikeleli said it was uncanny that alcohol had spilled on Zuma and not anyone else. Mpikeleli also considered that Peense walked away from the area he was initially standing in after spilling the alcohol.
"The State has proven beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Peense intentionally and unlawfully threw alcohol on our President, which constitutes assault,” the magistrate ruled.
Legal fees for fighting the assault charge had ruined him financially Peense admitted. "It's destroyed my life."
He is due to be sentenced on September 7. Prosecutors have asked for him to be fined.