FORMER President Jacob Zuma will have his day in court following the announcement by the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shaun Abrahams that he will be charged.
Abrahams said Zuma would stand trial on 16 charges of racketeering‚ money laundering‚ fraud and corruption. The matter relates to the famous arms deal.
“After consideration of the matter‚ I am of the view that there are reasonable prospects of a successful prosecution of Mr Zuma on the charges listed in the indictment served on Mr Zuma‚” Abrahams told reporters in Pretoria on Friday.
“On the facts of this matter and in the interest of transparency‚ interest of the administration of justice and the administration of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA)‚ I am of the view that a trial court would be the most appropriate forum for these issues to be ventilated and to be decided upon.”
Abrahams said he made the decision after he received recommendations from a team of NPA prosecutors. This was after Zuma had made representations in January on why he should not be charged.
He said Zuma was informed earlier in the day on the decision. Abrahams used the briefing to announce that the director of public prosecutions in KwaZulu-Natal‚ Advocate Moipone Noko will lead the process of Zuma appearing in court.
The matter has been dragging since December 2007 when Zuma was charged shortly after he had defeated former president Thabo Mbeki for the position of ANC president at the party’s national conference in Polokwane.
This was then followed by the famous spy tape, the telephonic conversations between the NPA’s Directorate for Special Operations, Leonard McCarthy and Mpshe’s predecessor, Bulelani Ngcuka. The conversation were seen as under hand dealings particularly as Ngcuka was perceived as a Mbeki man. Zuma had been removed by Mbeki as the Deputy President of the country on fraud and corruption allegations.
Then acting National Director of Public Prosecutions, Advocate Mokotedi Mpshe dropped all charges against Zuma in April 2009, citing abuse of process and political interference in prosecution matters. He said that was due to policy aspects arising from allegations that the intercepted telephone conversations indicated that McCarthy had manipulated the timing of the serving of the indictment.
Since then the matter has seen Zuma and the Democratic Alliance doing battle in court. The party was trying to get its hands on the tapes to hear what prompted the decision to drop the charges.
Abrahams announced that a team of five prosecutors‚ led by Noko‚ would take up the Zuma case.
Zuma’s foes welcomed the decision. Chief among those first to gloat and celebrate was DA leader Mmusi Maimane, who said the time had come for Zuma to be held accountable.
“This is a victory for all who have fought for years for Jacob Zuma to face accountability for his crimes. That accountability starts now. We launched this review application in 2009, after the 783 charges were dropped illegally and unconstitutionally. It is a fight that we have been waging in the Courts for almost nine years and today’s decision is a vindication of the decision to challenge the dropping of the charges. Now there must be no further delay in starting the trial. The witnesses are ready, the evidence is strong, and Jacob Zuma must finally have his day in court,” he said.
ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule said they have confidence in the country’s justice system and Zuma should be seen as innocent until found guilty in a court of law.
“The ANC reaffirms its confidence in our country’s criminal justice system and our respect for the independence of the judiciary. We equally affirm our commitment to the constitutionally enshrined principle of equality of all before the law. 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,” he said.