‘Spy tapes’ ap­peal com­ing

Pros­e­cut­ing head re­mains mum on next move as ANC again closes ranks and wastes no time in at­tack­ing court rul­ing

CityPress - - News - ABRAM MASHEGO, PADDY HARPER and HLENGIWE NHLA­BATHI

The Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity (NPA) is pre­par­ing to chal­lenge the North Gaut­eng High Court rul­ing that the de­ci­sion to drop charges against Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma was ir­ra­tional.

Four se­nior pros­e­cut­ing au­thor­ity in­sid­ers told City Press this week­end that a de­ci­sion to ap­peal the rul­ing was taken even be­fore Deputy Judge Pres­i­dent Aubrey Led­waba handed it down on Fri­day.

But be­fore the au­thor­ity ap­peals, they need a green light from the pres­i­dency.

“Prepa­ra­tions for leave to ap­peal are al­ready un­der way,” said a se­nior NPA of­fi­cial yes­ter­day.

“The NPA is also await­ing the in­for­ma­tion from Pres­i­dent Zuma’s le­gal team on how the ap­peal process will be han­dled.”

How­ever, pros­e­cut­ing head Shaun Abra­hams told City Press that “it is in­cor­rect that a de­ci­sion has been made to ap­peal the rul­ing of the Pre­to­ria high court”.

“I am not cer­tain what in­for­ma­tion you have, but if you did not ob­tain it di­rectly from me or my spokesper­son, Ad­vo­cate Lu­vuyo Mfaku, then it is in­cor­rect. I am cur­rently study­ing the judg­ment and will only de­cide on the way for­ward af­ter care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion thereof.”

In a state­ment yes­ter­day, the pres­i­dency ap­peared to leave its ap­peal op­tions open, say­ing: “As a party to the pro­ceed­ings, the pres­i­dent has noted the de­ci­sion of the court and will give con­sid­er­a­tion to the judg­ment and its con­se­quences and the reme­dies avail­able in terms of our law.”

How­ever, an­other se­nior NPA of­fi­cial said the au­thor­ity did not do its best to win.

“It is bizarre. I saw it com­ing. It was al­most as if my boss [Abra­hams] was try­ing to lose the case – he re­moved all the ad­vo­cates who knew the de­tail of the case. I was not sur­prised it was lost.”

A se­nior Hawks mem­ber, who is privy to NPA af­fairs, said those hop­ing to see Zuma in court “will have to wait for many years”.

The charges against the pres­i­dent in­clude 783 counts of fraud, cor­rup­tion and rack­e­teer­ing that were dropped by then act­ing pros­e­cu­tions head Mokotedi Mp­she in 2009.

They will now have to be rein­ves­ti­gated by the Hawks fol­low­ing the dis­band­ment of in­ves­tiga­tive agency the Scor­pi­ons in 2009.

The se­nior Hawks of­fi­cial said: “I know they will ap­peal, which will take many years to reach a fi­nal con­clu­sion. But if the mat­ter has to be back in court, the Hawks will have to open new state­ments and gather ev­i­dence to be used for prose­cu­tion.”

De­liv­er­ing the judg­ment, Led­waba said: “It is thus our view that the en­vis­aged prose­cu­tion against Mr Zuma was not tainted by the al­le­ga­tions against [Scor­pi­ons chief Leonard] McCarthy.”

The al­le­ga­tions re­garded the al­leged col­lu­sion – caught on the so-called spy tapes – be­tween se­nior pros­e­cu­tors, in­ves­ti­ga­tors and mem­bers of then pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki’s ad­min­is­tra­tion to charge Zuma be­fore the ANC’s Polok­wane con­fer­ence, to re­duce his chances of be­ing elected pres­i­dent of the party.

“Mr Zuma should face the charges as out­lined in the in­dict­ment. This court finds that the de­ci­sion of April 1 2009 to dis­con­tinue the prose­cu­tion of the case against Mr Zuma is ir­ra­tional and should be re­viewed and set aside,” the court ruled.

But the ANC has closed ranks be­hind Zuma in the wake of Fri­day’s judg­ment.

Party and al­liance lead­ers yes­ter­day used the fu­neral of Dudu Mchunu, ANC ac­tivist and wife of KwaZu­luNatal MEC Wil­lies Mchunu, to de­fend Zuma and at­tack the court’s de­ci­sion.

Mchunu’s fu­neral was at­tended by ANC trea­sur­ergen­eral Zweli Mkhize and sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe.

Em­manuel Moloi, who sits on the na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) of the SA Na­tional Civic Or­gan­i­sa­tion, fired the first salvo by say­ing that while they re­spected the courts, they re­jected the judg­ment and ques­tioned a lack of con­sis­tency. “What kind of judges are these?” asked Moloi. “This is a prob­lem. We are in­tel­li­gent enough to ques­tion and to see that some­thing is wrong here.”

“I can guar­an­tee … that Msholozi is not go­ing to be charged. I am telling you the com­rade is not go­ing to be pros­e­cuted … I am talk­ing about Pres­i­dent Msholozi,” he said.

ANC pro­vin­cial chair­per­son Sihle Zikalala said “noth­ing has changed” be­cause of the judg­ment.

“We still have a gov­ern­ment that is sta­ble and that is work­ing,” he said.

ANC chair­per­son and Speaker of the Na­tional Assem­bly Baleka Mbete called for party unity, say­ing those who spon­sored non­govern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions in a bid to over­throw the ANC were “play­ing”.

The SA Com­mu­nist Party was less forth­right in its back­ing of Zuma than in the past. It said it would study the judg­ment and cau­tioned that “the mat­ter does not re­quire to be han­dled with any prej­u­dices”.

ANC lead­ers said the judg­ment was un­likely to have as much im­pact in­side the party as the re­cent Con­sti­tu­tional Court judg­ment on Nkandla be­cause lead­ers had al­ready de­cided to close ranks ahead of the mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions and next year’s party con­fer­ence.

An ANC NEC mem­ber said that although the judg­ment “is bad for the ANC’s cred­i­bil­ity and reignites the is­sue about Zuma be­ing a li­a­bil­ity”, noth­ing was likely to hap­pen. “We have al­ready taken a stance of de­fend­ing this man. The prob­lem is that we have gone out to our struc­tures and de­cided to close ranks. It is near im­pos­si­ble to do a U-turn on that as a re­sult of an­other judg­ment. There is a dis­play of sup­port from some of the struc­tures. Also, who would want to be seen to dif­fer? Peo­ple’s ca­reers are at stake here. They would not want to say whether this man is right or wrong.”

What kind of judges are these? This is a prob­lem. We are in­tel­li­gent enough to ques­tion and to see that some­thing is wrong here

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