‘I will stand by my pres­i­dent’

The New Age (Free State) - - FRONT PAGE - MICHAEL TLHAKUDI news@the­newage.co.za

A HAND­FUL of ANC sup­port­ers out­side the Supreme Court of Ap­peal in Bloemfontein had mixed re­ac­tions yes­ter­day fol­low­ing the news that judg­ment was re­served in the spy tapes case be­ing ap­pealed.

This af­ter Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s lawyers con­ceded that crim­i­nal charges against him were ir­ra­tional.

Mem­bers who were wear­ing mainly ANC colours stood out­side the court for the bet­ter part of pro­ceed­ings chanting in sup­port of Zuma.

They said that they would stand by Zuma de­spite the court’s de­ci­sion.

Ad­vo­cate Hil­ton Ep­stein, ap­pear­ing on be­half of the Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Author­ity (NPA) had a hard time con­vinc­ing the court of his ar­gu­ment that the de­ci­sion by for­mer Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions Mokotedi Mp­she was legally valid when de­cid­ing to with­draw 783 charges against the pres­i­dent.

Moeketsi Mokoena of sec­tion J Bot­sha­belo said he would con­tinue to sup­port Zuma un­til the court de­cided oth­er­wise.

“The court said judg­ment is re­served, it does not nec­es­sar­ily mean the pres­i­dent was found guilty or that the case will be re­in­stated. We’re still wait­ing for the ver­dict. In the mean­time, I will stand by my pres­i­dent,” Mokoena said.

Con­versely, Lesedi from Bergman Square said as much as she was a card car­ry­ing mem­ber of the ANC, she wanted Zuma to face all the charges so that he could clear his name once and for all.

“It would be best if he clears his name in court. The charges are far greater, so we want him to have his day in court,” she said.

The hear­ing that was ini­tially set aside for two days in or­der to hear the le­gal team’s oral rep­re­sen­ta­tions, was wrapped up by lunch time yes­ter­day.

Jus­tice Azhar Cachalia through­out pro­ceed­ings kept on re­mind­ing Ep­stein of the court’s pre­vi­ous rul­ing that the mo­tive be­hind bring­ing the charges does not con­tra­dict the mer­its of the charges.

The ques­tions why there was no af­fi­davit from Mp­she in­cluded in the NPA’s ar­gu­ments to prove that he did ap­ply his mind when mak­ing his de­ci­sion in 2009 was also high­lighted.

In 2009, fol­low­ing Zuma’s vic­tory at the party polls, Mp­she with­drew 783 charges linked to the multi­bil­lion-rand 1999 arms deal.

The DA then chal­lenged the mat­ter in court.

In May 2016, the North Gaut­eng High Court or­dered that Zuma had to face all the charges. Zuma then took the mat­ter to the Supreme Court of Ap­peal.

Yes­ter­day, le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tives for the NPA and Zuma tried their best to per­suade the court to al­low the ap­peal.

The NPA said it ac­cepted that Mp­she could not rely upon sec­tion 179 of the Con­sti­tu­tion, as he ear­lier declared, as this sec­tion did not al­low the NPA to re­view its own de­ci­sions.

Zuma’s coun­sel, ad­vo­cate Kemp J Kemp, con­ceded that a de­ci­sion to with­draw charges was based solely on the tim­ing of the in­dict­ment,

Ar­gu­ments around what was to hap­pen with re­gards to the le­gal pro­ceed­ings against Zuma dom­i­nated the rest of pro­ceed­ings.

PIC­TURE: VOIGHT MOKONE

COURT PRO­CEED­INGS: Jus­tice Azhar Cachalia kept on re­mind­ing the NPA of the Supreme Court of Ap­peal’s pre­vi­ous rul­ing that the mo­tive for bring­ing the charges did not con­tra­dict the mer­its of the charges dur­ing pro­ceed­ings in the Bloemfontein court where judg­ment was re­served in the Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma spy tapes ap­peal case.

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