Judgment on Zuma prosecution today

2008-07-30 00:00

The long-awaited and vital ruling by the Constitutional Court on issues related to Jacob Zuma’s prosecution will be handed down today.

The decisions on these appeals are expected to have a crucial bearing on the future prosecution of Zuma and his co-accused in their criminal corruption case.

They are also the subject of heated debate amid allegations that Cape Town’s Judge President, John Hlophe, attempted to influence some of the ConCourt judges hearing the matter.

Today’s judgment will deal with four applications by Zuma, his attorney, Michael Hulley, Thint (Pty) Ltd, and Thint Holdings Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd for leave to appeal against three judgments of the Supreme Court of Appeal handed down on November 8, 2007.

Two of the applications concern the lawfulness of various search-and- seizure operations at the offices of Hulley and Thint as well as at Zuma’s residences and former offices during which some 93 000 documents were seized, some in electronic format.

Zuma and Hulley initially challenged the legality of the search warrants, and search-and-seizure operations, in the Durban High Court and won, while a similar challenge by Thint (Pty) Ltd in the Pretoria High Court failed.

In subsequent appeals, however, the Supreme Court of Appeal found in favour of the state by a three-two majority, and ordered that the state could keep the seized items.

In their appeals, Zuma, Hulley and Thint asked for the return of their documents.

They alleged that the state did not disclose material facts when it applied for the search warrants; that the warrants were too vague and broad and violated their rights to privacy under the Constitution.

They also argued that Zuma’s right to a fair trial was threatened because the warrants did not protect his lawyer-client privilege.

The other two appeals challenge the legality of a decision by the Durban High Court to issue a letter of request to Mauritiun authorities for documents to be used in evidence in Zuma’s corruption trial.

The state has urged the ConCourt to find that its conduct was legal and maintains the right to retain the documents.

Alternatively, the state asks for an order preserving the seized items with the Registrar of the High Court for the pending criminal trials.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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