President Jacob Zuma's son, Duduzane, was let off the hook by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) after the authority declined to prosecute him when he was involved in an accident that killed two women, Business Day reported on Wednesday.
This, despite a ruling by a magistrate that Duduzane had been negligent during the accident. A source close to the NPA told Business Day that the families of the deceased could sue Zuma for "millions".
This was revealed in leaked emails, which, for the first time, show that the NPA decided not to take action against Duduzane. The NPA has never publicly revealed its decision.
According to Business Day, in August 2015, an email was sent to Duduzane's lawyer, Gary Mazaham from the NPA.
"I decline to prosecute. There are no prospects of a successful prosecution," he said.
An advocate who represented one of the deceased women, David Maree, was surprised.
He told Business Day last week:
"My understanding was from a law point of view that when someone is responsible for a death or an accident, then the next procedure would be a criminal matter that would follow against the person. But like I said, it was to my surprise the NPA made a decision and said they would not prosecute the matter."
Two women travelling in a taxi, Jeanette Mashaba and Phumzile Dube, died in 2014 when Duduzane's Porche crashed into it on the M1 in Johanneburg. Duduzane said that his car had hit a puddle of water and that he had lost control, before the car hit the taxi, which then hit a barrier.
According to Business Day, the NPA referred the matter to a magistrates' court for a formal inquest, and decided not to prosecute, citing insufficient evidence.
In December 2014, Randburg magistrate Lalitha Chetty reportedly ruled that Duduzane was negligent during the accident. Chetty reportedly found that: "the death of the deceased Phumzile Dube was prima facie brought about by the negligent act of suspect 2, Mr Zuma. He failed to conduct himself in a reasonable manner under the circumstances and adverse weather conditions."'
Mashaba's death was ruled the result of natural causes.
Chetty reportedly rejected Zuma's defence that his car had aquaplaned.
NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku told Business Day: "The finding of the magistrate is based on a balance of probabilities. The standard of proof in a criminal trial, beyond reasonable doubt, cannot be met on the available evidence.
"That can also been inferred from the reasoning of the magistrate, who refers to the evidence of Mr Zuma as the basis for the finding."