LOBAMBA – Eswatini High Commissioner to South Africa, Dumsile Sukati, has finally admitted to have been driving the Mercedes Benz which was involved in an accident that cost about E576 000.
Sukati made this admission when she appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) yesterday.
The diplomat admitted that she had been wrong to personally drive the vehicle as this was against government regulations, but said she had not choice, as her designated driver had frequently put her life in danger by driving recklessly.
Sukati informed the committee that on several previous occasions, her chauffer would fall asleep on the road, particularly when driving her to other SADC countries such as Botswana and Lesotho.
She said, however, the final straw was on her visit to Eswatini for the December 2017 festive holidays, when the vehicle veered off the road near Carolina after her driver, whom she said was South Africa had allegedly fallen asleep behind the wheel. “That was when I told him to stop and I took over the steering wheel and drove to Eswatini while he dozed off in the back of the vehicle,” submitted Sukati.
She said in fact, as ambassador she had turned out to be a chauffeur but said she could not risk her life. “Ngatsi angifuni kubulalwa nguwe,” she said in vernacular.
Sukati narrated that when they arrived at the Oshoek Border Gate, she gave her driver, who was aged around 45, temporary use of the vehicle.
“However, as soon as we arrived in Eswatini, I said he could return home to South Africa and he used a kombi or public transport,” said Sukati.
The diplomat said before her return to South Africa in January 2018 on the day the accident happened she had been called to a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation where she was harassed.
However, Chairperson of the PAC Phila Buthelezi said the high commissioner must continue to tell them about the accident before diverting to other issues which were later addressed.
Sukati said she was just near Pretoria when a vehicle disturbed her by hitting her car at the back which was when she tried to give way and unfortunately the vehicle landed in a drain that was made of steel and got damaged.
She said her driver had been with her for 10 months and although he was redeployed, he still drove her around if there was a shortage of drivers.
The high commissioner said when she got back to the mission, she had a meeting with the councillor and police and asked to see her chauffer’s contract, which was however, not signed.
The committee asked the diplomat many questions, including whether she had anything in writing concerning the driver’s previous behaviour and whether the driver had rested well and if he was of sober habits.
Sukati said she had not called the driver because she would not have been able to use him as she had been traumatised. The commissioner said in the first instance ,the driver was engaged verbally, but thereafter, communication was done both orally and in writing.
Sukati said she did not know if the driver was of sober habits.
Times of Swaziland