On Wednesday, award-winning South African rock musician Arno Carstens appeared at the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court in connection with a drinking and driving incident almost three years ago. Carstens and his defence team had raised questions about the validity and accuracy of the tests which were conducted to determine his blood-alcohol level at the time of his arrest. The court heard that the tests were as accurate as can be and also, they were standardised.
The defence team was not entirely satisfied that Pakami Pati, the forensic analyst appointed by the state to do the blood tests, had done a thorough job. Milton de la Harpe, Carstens’ lawyer was quoted in Drum magazine as saying that Pati’s results could not have been accurate as the tests were conducted using solutions which had surpassed the recommended time frame for use. The tests found that the singer’s blood alcohol level was at 0.20 per cent which far exceeds the legal limit of 0.05 per cent.
Pati was in court to explain the details of her tests on Wednesday. She said that the system she employed is designed in such a way that one can see the calibration before testing samples. For extra measure, 10 per cent of the results were scrutinized manually for accuracy. When asked why Carstens’ reading showed measurements in milligrams instead of millilitres as used by the National Metrology Institute of SA, Pati responded: “The alcohol content of the accused would still be 0.20 per cent. The alcohol content wouldn’t lower to, say, 0.05 (per cent if measured in millilitres).”
Arno Carstens has a successful career in music. His award cabinet boasts 5 South African Music Award statuettes. He has performed with entertainment royalty such as The Rolling Stones and U2. He has a huge following all over Europe and the United States. Carstens joins a host of other South African celebrities and sports personalities who have been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. These include the winner of the 2005 Idols competition, Karin Kortje and Bafana Bafana player Katlego ‘Killer’ Mphela. More recently, rapper Molemo ‘Jub Jub’ Maarohanye received a long prison term after schoolchildren were killed in a car accident where he was driving under the influence of narcotics.