International

Stories Of Presidential Protection: Spilled Whiskey Leads To Assault Conviction

President Jacob Zuma at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Jan. 27, 2011. i i

President Jacob Zuma at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Jan. 27, 2011. Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images
President Jacob Zuma at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Jan. 27, 2011.

President Jacob Zuma at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Jan. 27, 2011.

Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

A splash of whiskey at a horse race has become a national incident in South Africa, with racehorse owner Daryl Peense earning a conviction Wednesday on the charge that he assaulted President Jacob Zuma.

The assault — or accident, depending on your point of view — happened back in July 2010 when Peense, standing on a balcony at a Durban race track, spilled his drink as President Zuma's entourage passed below.

The Mail & Guardian reports Peense's claim that the spill was unintentional:

"During the trial, Peense denied deliberately spilling his drink on the president, claiming it spilled when people pushed against him to get a better view of Zuma."

"He claimed he was drunk at the time."

South Africa's news24, in an earlier story, quotes one of the president's bodyguards:

"'Just before we passed through, I noticed he had a tumbler in his hand then he poured it onto the president. After doing so he moved back,' said Nemaenzhe."

"He said bodyguard number one protected the president with his jacket so that he did not get wet. He said Peense's glass was directed down toward the president."

Peense will be sentenced in September, with prosecutors asking that he be fined for his offense. He's quoted by the AP as saying that the incident has "destroyed" his life.

This was not the only entanglement last year that cast a spotlight on security surrounding President Zuma, as the BBC reports:

"In another incident last year, police briefly detained a student from Cape Town for 24 hours for allegedly gesturing with his middle finger at Mr Zuma's motorcade."

"South Africa's Human Rights Commission ordered the police minister to apologise to the student, Chumani Maxwele."

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