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South Africa’s ex-president Zuma escapes unharmed from car crash

Police arrest 51-year-old man for drunk and reckless driving after he crashed into Zuma’s armoured state vehicle.

South Africa’s former President Jacob Zuma [File: Emmanuel Croset/AFP]Published On 29 Mar 202429 Mar 2024

South Africa’s former President Jacob Zuma survived a car accident after a vehicle transporting him was hit by a drunk driver, police said.

The incident happened hours after electoral officials barred Zuma from standing in the May 29 general elections.

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A 51-year-old man was arrested in KwaZulu-Natal province “for drunken driving, as well as on a charge of reckless and negligent driving”, the South African Police Service (SAPS) said on Friday.

The driver’s car “collided” with Zuma’s “official armoured state vehicle”, on Thursday, SAPS posted on X. The suspect is to appear in court on Tuesday.

Zuma, 81, and his bodyguards escaped uninjured.

The veteran of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) has been campaigning for the recently formed uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) (Spear of the Nation) party in an attempt to relaunch his career after he was previously jailed for contempt of court in 2021.

Zuma’s tenure ended in 2018 under a cloud of corruption allegations when incumbent Cyril Ramaphosa replaced him, but he still wields political clout.

MK spokesman Nhlamulo Ndhlela alleged the car collision was not a coincidence.

“The police minister who is responsible for the former president’s protection unit has not upgraded his vehicle for eight years and he is the same person that has previously uttered messages around burying Zuma,” Ndhlela told the AFP news agency.

“There is underhand at play here,” he said, alleging that Zuma’s car was specifically targeted in the motorcade.

Political tensions are running high in the lead-up to the elections, in which the ANC is on the brink of dropping below 50 percent of the vote for the first time since it came to power at the end of apartheid in 1994.

The party is bleeding support amid a weak economy and allegations of corruption and mismanagement.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies