PRETORIA. – The NPA will prosecute former president Jacob Zuma on 16 charges of corruption, money laundering, racketeering and fraud.
The charges relate to a multi-billion rand government arms deal in the late 1990s. They were filed but then dropped by the NPA shortly before Zuma ran for president in 2009.
“I am of the view that there are reasonable prospects of a successful prosecution of Mr Zuma,” NPA boss Shaun Abrahams said yesterday.
Zuma – then deputy president – was linked to the deal through Schabir Shaik‚ his former financial adviser who was jailed for corruption.
Shaik’s conviction almost torpedoed Zuma’s bid for president but the charges against him were dropped on a technicality by NPA boss Mokotedi Mpshe, based on the recordings of the so-called “spy tapes”, which were presented to him by Zuma’s legal team.
The tapes were made up of recordings of telephone conversations between then Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy and former NPA boss Bulelani Ngcuka, which Zuma’s legal team claimed showed political interference in the decision to charge him.
The High Court reinstated the charges in 2016 and the Supreme Court upheld that decision last year‚ rejecting an appeal by Zuma and describing the NPA’s initial decision to set aside the charges as “irrational”.
Abrahams said he notified Zuma on his decision earlier yesterday.
Meanwhile, the ruling African National Congress yesterday said it noted the NPA’s decision to reinstate charges against former president Zuma but highlighted that he was innocent until proven guilty.
“Accordingly we call on South Africans at large to afford the NPA space to conduct its work unhindered. We continue to assert the inalienable right of all in our country‚ including Comrade Jacob Zuma‚ to be presumed innocent until and if proven guilty‚” said ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe.
The party said it had confidence in the country’s criminal justice system and respects the independence of the judiciary.
In a related development, the NPA said it will prosecute the local affiliate of French arms company Thales, along with former president Jacob Zuma, for its role in the arms deal saga.
“The charges have been reinstated for them as well and they will appear in court with Zuma,” NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku told News24.
Thales’ local affiliate will face charges of corruption and fraud, while Zuma will face charges of corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering.
Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi previously told the City Press that the NPA was trying to establish who would represent the company in court.
“Our investigator was requested by the new prosecutions team, to establish who will represent Thint (now Thales) during the trial, if the National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams decides to prosecute the company,” he said.
Mulaudzi said Thales was “duly informed that the decision lies with the NDPP, based on the recent Supreme Court of Appeal ruling”.
He said Thales “committed to cooperate, pending the decision of the NDPP”. – News24/The Sowetan/Herald