Zuma: I won’t hand over the spy tapes

2013-03-10 10:01

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President Jacob Zuma’s lawyers will fight the release of the full set of controversial spy tapes that got him off the hook on fraud and corruption charges.

In what is the first clear indication of Zuma’s legal strategy in the DA’s bid to have corruption charges against him reinstated, his lawyers have filed heads of argument, which say the tapes form part of Zuma’s confidential representations.

This was despite the fact that Zuma never gave copies of the tapes to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

In 2009, when dropping the charges, then acting NPA boss Mokotedi Mpshe said Zuma’s lawyer Michael Hulley had only allowed prosecutors Sibongile Mzinyathi and Willie Hofmeyr to listen to recordings of the tapes.

After Zuma’s representations, the NPA independently obtained recordings from the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) of the same telephone intercepts between former NPA head Bulelani Ngcuka and then Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy.

“The NPA is thus confident that its decision is based on information that was intercepted legally and obtained legally by the NPA,” Mpshe said at the time.

Mpshe made four-and-a-half pages of transcripts of the tapes available to the media to show that there was political interference in the timing of the corruption charges against Zuma.

But Zuma’s advocate, Kemp J Kemp, argues that the fact the tapes were obtained from the NIA – which the DA is relying on in order to get its hands on the full transcripts – was irrelevant.

“(If it were not for Zuma’s) disclosure of the transcripts to the NPA in its written representations, the (NPA) would not have accessed such transcripts and recordings with the NIA,” said Kemp.

According to Kemp, “the fact that the transcript was disclosed, in small part, by the (NPA) in its written submissions (press statement) dated April 6 2009 does not detract from the nature or extent of the representations made to the (NPA) by (Zuma)”.

The DA is trying to compel the NPA to release transcripts of the tapes in terms of a court order issued by the Supreme Court of Appeal last year.

The SCA ruled that a decision to drop corruption charges by the NPA was subject to review by a court.

The court ordered the NPA to file a record of all the documents and evidence relating to the decision to drop corruption charges against Zuma, excluding his confidential written and oral representations, within two weeks.

But full transcripts of the spy tapes were never made available, with acting NPA head Nomgcobo Jiba contending that there was an agreement between parties that the tapes should first be submitted to Zuma’s lawyers for them to approve the release.

The DA denies that any such agreement ever existed.

In his heads of argument, Sean Rosenberg, acting for the party, argues that Jiba “should not have given (Zuma’s) legal team the opportunity to consider the transcripts and to object to the disclosure?thereof”.

“It was simply not good enough to treat the failure of (Zuma’s) legal team to respond (as to whether the transcripts should be released) as an objection by silence,” he said.

The DA is asking that Jiba should show why she should “not be held in contempt of court and punished”.

The party argues that the very fact that the NPA had made transcriptions of the tapes was proof that Jiba perceived them to form part of the record.

The case, which has been placed on the roll of the North Gauteng High Court for April 30, will deal only with whether transcripts of the spy tapes, as well as internal memoranda which do not refer to Zuma’s representations, should be made available to the DA.

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