Zuma is again ac­cused num­ber 1

CityPress - - News - CHARL DU PLESSIS charl.du­p­lessis@city­press.co.za

Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s le­gal team has one month to pe­ti­tion the Supreme Court of Ap­peal (SCA) to hear an ap­peal in the DA’s “spy tapes” case. Un­til then, the pres­i­dent legally faces cor­rup­tion charges.

The North Gaut­eng High Court in Pretoria on Fri­day dis­missed Zuma and the Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity’s (NPA’s) ap­pli­ca­tion for leave to ap­peal against its rul­ing in April, in which it held that the de­ci­sion to drop cor­rup­tion charges against Zuma back in 2009 was ir­ra­tional.

Also re­jected by the court was the ar­gu­ment ad­vanced by Zuma’s lawyers that it had been wrong to find that “Mr Zuma should face the charges as out­lined in the in­dict­ment”.

This find­ing led to a spat in Par­lia­ment and a rul­ing by Deputy Speaker Lech­esa Tsenoli that MPs were not al­lowed to re­fer to Zuma as “ac­cused num­ber one”.

Kemp J Kemp, Zuma’s ad­vo­cate, ar­gued against the find­ing of the court that Zuma should face the charges, say­ing that it ig­nored the fact that charges against him had been for­mally with­drawn in court.

But on Fri­day, a full bench of the court, con­sist­ing of Deputy Judge Pres­i­dent Aubrey Led­waba and judges Cyn­thia Pre­to­rius and Billy Mothle, re­jected that ar­gu­ment.

“In our view, the with­drawal of the charges against Mr Zuma was not an ac­quit­tal. Such with­drawal does not nul­lify the de­ci­sion to pros­e­cute should ad­vo­cate [Mokotedi] Mp­she’s de­ci­sion be set aside. The said with­drawal can­not be re­garded as a fac­tor to stop Mr Zuma [from fac­ing] the charges,” the court ruled.

This means that un­til Zuma or the NPA file an ap­peal – which would im­me­di­ately sus­pend the ef­fect of the high court’s judg­ment – the charges are au­to­mat­i­cally re­in­stated.

In terms of the Su­pe­rior Courts Act, no­tice of such an ap­peal must be filed at the SCA within a month.

A fur­ther op­tion for Zuma and the NPA would be to at­tempt to by­pass the SCA and ap­peal di­rectly to the Con­sti­tu­tional Court.

Pierre de Vos, pro­fes­sor of con­sti­tu­tional law at the Univer­sity of Cape Town, said the ef­fect of Fri­day’s judg­ment was that the orig­i­nal de­ci­sion to pros­e­cute Zuma had ef­fec­tively been “re­vived from the dead”.

As a re­sult of the mat­ter now be­ing tech­ni­cally with the pros­e­cut­ing au­thor­ity, an­other op­tion that would, hy­po­thet­i­cally, be open to it would be to again de­cide to with­draw the charges.

“[But the NPA] will have to find other rea­sons and they will have to be ra­tio­nal rea­sons for again drop­ping the charges ... they can’t be rea­sons re­lat­ing to the con­ver­sa­tions be­tween [for­mer Scor­pi­ons boss Leonard] McCarthy and [Bule­lani] Ngcuka.”

The con­ver­sa­tions re­ferred to were con­tained in the spy tapes. Zuma re­lied on them in sub­mis­sions to the NPA in which he ar­gued that the pros­e­cu­tion against him had been ma­nip­u­lated for po­lit­i­cal pur­poses.

While stress­ing that if McCarthy had be­haved in that man­ner, it would be a se­ri­ous breach of the law and pros­e­cu­to­rial pol­icy, the court ruled that his con­duct had not in fact been proven.

It re­jected an ar­gu­ment to this ef­fect in an af­fi­davit by Wil­lie Hofmeyr, deputy di­rec­tor of pub­lic pros­e­cu­tions, who was privy to the de­ci­sion to drop charges against Zuma.

The court held that, in ap­ply­ing for leave to ap­peal, Zuma and the NPA had “in­vented novel le­gal grounds by mis­in­ter­pret­ing sec­tions of the judg­ment or some se­lec­tive sen­tences of the judg­ment”.

Both the NPA and the pres­i­dency said they were still study­ing the judg­ment.

James Selfe, ex­ec­u­tive chair­per­son of the DA, said the party was brac­ing it­self for an­other ap­peal in its sev­enyear le­gal bat­tle to re­view the NPA’s de­ci­sion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.