Twists and turns when ‘spy tapes’ case lands at SCA

2014-06-04 11:17

President Jacob Zuma’s bid to keep secret the “spy tapes” that got him off the hook on fraud and corruption charges will be heard in the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in just more than two months’ time.

And Zuma’s lawyers will have no easy go of it either.

Kemp J Kemp, Zuma’s advocate, will have to convince a full bench of five appeal judges, including SCA Judge President Lex Mpati and acting deputy judge president Mahomed Navsa.

Navsa, who has a formidable reputation of a no-nonsense approach to legal argument in the SCA, also penned the ground-breaking 2011 judgment in the same case.

That order confirmed that a decision to drop a prosecution could be challenged in court by an organisation like the DA, acting in the public interest.

That judgment also ordered the NPA to produce a “reduced record” of the 2009 decision by acting prosecutions boss Mokotedi Mpshe to drop corruption charges against Zuma.

This is a documentary record of the evidence, which excludes the confidential representations Zuma had made to the NPA.

When Kemp goes back to court, he will have to convince Navsa that his original judgment ordering the record to be filed does not extend to the “spy tapes”.

Zuma’s lawyers will argue that the tapes – intercepted phone calls between Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy and former NPA head Bulelani Ngcuka – are “inextricably linked” to Zuma’s confidential representations.

They say the tapes are like a photograph, which shows a murder victim alive and well.

If such a photo was independently obtained from the photographer, argues Kemp, it would not change the fact that the photo was part of the confidential representations.

Zuma’s lawyer will also argue against internal NPA memoranda and notes dealing with the decision to drop corruption charges being made public.

These arguments last year failed to convince the North Gauteng High Court, which ordered that the spy tapes be made available.

The DA’s legal battle to have fraud and corruption charges reinstated against Zuma is now dragging into its fifth year.

The battle over the “spy tapes” is a preliminary matter, which has to be decided before the main case is decided.

The DA is expected to make an announcement on the case later today.

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