About-turn on cor­rup­tion charges

The Herald (South Africa) - - FRONT PAGE - Genevieve Quin­tal

PRES­I­DENT Ja­cob Zuma has ad­mit­ted that the 2009 de­ci­sion to have cor­rup­tion charges against him dropped was ir­ra­tional, but now wants the Na­tional Prose­cut­ing Author­ity to make a ra­tio­nal one.

In an 11th-hour con­ces­sion yes­ter­day, Kemp J Kemp for Zuma told the Supreme Court of Ap­peal that his client had con­ceded to this, but wanted the op­por­tu­nity to then make fresh rep­re­sen­ta­tions be­fore the NPA de­cided to recharge him.

This would put the de­ci­sion on whether Zuma ul­ti­mately faces 783 charges of cor­rup­tion in the hands of present Na­tional Di­rec­tor of Public Pros­e­cu­tions (NDPP) Shaun Abra­hams.

How­ever, Jus­tice Ma­homed Navsa said those pro­cesses were not for the SCA to de­cide on.

Abra­hams and the NPA have been ac­cused of pro­tect­ing Zuma. For the past decade, the NPA has been seen to be po­lit­i­cally cap­tured.

It has also been ac­cused of bias and se­lec­tive pros­e­cu­tion.

The de­ci­sion to drop the charges against Zuma was taken in April 2009 by then act­ing NDPP Mokotedi Mp­she.

The DA ap­proached the Pre­to­ria High Court to have the de­ci­sion de­clared null and void and in April last year the court ruled that the NPA must re­in­state the charges.

Zuma and the NPA ap­proached the Supreme Court of Ap­peal in a bid to ap­peal against this rul­ing.

DA fed­eral ex­ec­u­tive chair­man James Selfe said given the weight of the con­ces­sions made by Zuma and the NPA, it was in­evitable that the pres­i­dent would face the cor­rup­tion charges.

“What we are hop­ing the court will do is go ahead and give some clar­ity to the process that must now take place,” he said.

“As we all know, the pres­i­dent is an ex­pert on de­lay­ing tac­tics and what we would want the court to do is to lay some­thing down about the process that needs to be fol­lowed to get Ja­cob Zuma to ap­pear in a dock in a court within the next cou­ple of months.”

Selfe said there were ex­cel­lent grounds to have Zuma pay for the mat­ter out of his own pocket.

He said court pro­ceed­ings over the last eight years had made a big dent in the public purse, pos­si­bly al­most R30-mil­lion.

Hil­ton Epstein, for the NPA, ar­gued that Mp­she’s de­ci­sion to drop the charges had been based on the tim­ing of the in­dict­ment be­ing served and that there had been po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence by Scor­pion boss Leonard McCarthy, who was a staunch sup­porter of former

pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki. There was noth­ing wrong with the pros­e­cu­to­rial process or any in­ter­fer­ence there.

This was at the time when Zuma was con­test­ing Mbeki for the po­si­tion of ANC pres­i­dent at the 2007 Polok­wane con­fer­ence.

If the SCA dis­misses the ap­pli­ca­tion for leave to ap­peal and upholds the high court judg­ment, the NPA wants the de­ci­sion of whether Zuma is charged to re­vert to Abra­hams.

How­ever, Jus­tice Azhar Cachalia said it was his un­der­stand­ing that Abra­hams would be bound by the de­ci­sion of his pre­de­ces­sor.

Zuma had al­ready made rep­re­sen­ta­tions, which were re­jected back in 2009 when the de­ci­sion was taken to pros­e­cute him.

“If Mr Abra­hams is con­cerned that he has to reap­ply his mind afresh, we will be here nine years later,” he said.

Jus­tice Eric Leach, dur­ing ar­gu­ments for the ap­pli­ca­tion for leave to ap­peal, ques­tioned why Zuma had ap­proached the court if he was ul­ti­mately agree­ing with what the high court had ruled.

Kemp said he wanted the court to set out the pro­cesses going for­ward.

This would in­clude al­low­ing Zuma to make fresh rep­re­sen­ta­tions so that the NPA could make a de­ci­sion on whether to con­tinue with the pros­e­cu­tion. Judg­ment in the mat­ter was re­served. NPA spokesman Lu­vuyo Mfaku said af­ter the court pro­ceed­ings that the con­ces­sion, af­ter an eight-year court bat­tle, was not an em­bar­rass­ment for the in­sti­tu­tion.

“When­ever you be­lieve in a par­tic­u­lar prin­ci­ple you need to pur­sue that prin­ci­ple to the end,” he said.

He would not com­ment fur­ther, say­ing the NPA would wait un­til the court had handed down judg­ment.

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