Tacking the path of the Zuma investigation

2008-08-04 00:00

ANC President Jacob Zuma’s legal woes date back to November 2000 when the State first started its investigations into allegations of corruption around the arms deal. Speculation and suspicion surrounded Jacob Zuma and his financial advisor, Schabir Shaik, from then on.

In point form this is how the case progressed.

• August 23, 2003: The National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Bulelani Nqcuka publicly announced his decision to prosecute Shaik for corruption and fraud, but not Zuma, although he alleged that there was a “prima facie” case for him to answer.

• October 2004 to June 2005: Shaik went on trial in the Durban High Court and was found guilty. The court ruled that he had a “generally corrupt” relationship with Zuma and that he negotiated a bribe from French arms manufacturer Thint for Zuma.

• June 8, 2005: Shaik was effectively jailed for 15 years. His subsequent appeals against his convictions and sentence have all failed.

• June 14, 2005: Zuma was dismissed as South Africa’s Deputy President by President Thabo Mbeki in the “interests of the country”.

• June 20, 2005: National Director of Public Prosecutions Vusi Pikoli decided to prosecute Zuma for alleged corruption.

• June 29, 2005: Zuma appeared for the first time in the Durban Magistrate’s Court.

• August 18, 2005: The Scorpions seized 93 000 documents in raids on the homes and offices of Zuma, his lawyers and Thint. These raids were the subject of various appeals which were only finalised last week — July 31 — when the Constitutional Court ruled in favour of the State that the search and seizure operations were legal and did not infringe on privilege.

• October 11, 2005: Zuma appeared for the second time in the Durban Magistrate’s Court. It was agreed between his defence team and the NPA that the case be postponed to November 12, 2005, for a “provisional indictment” to be served. The final indictment would be served during March 2006.

• November 4, 2005: French-based arms company Thint was charged to stand trial with Zuma.

• November 12, 2005: A provisional indictment (a mirror image of the Shaik indictment) was served on Zuma at the Durban Magistrate’s Court and the case was transferred to the Pietermaritzburg High Court for trial on July 31, 2006.

• November 13, 2005: Rape allegations emerged against Zuma.

• February 13, 2006: Zuma went on trial for the rape of a family friend in Johannesburg.

• May 8, 2006: Zuma was acquitted of the rape charge.

• July 18, 2006: The State filed an application for the Zuma-Thint corruption trial to be adjourned on July 31, 2006, as the indictment could not be finalised. This was due to pending appeals against the legality of search and seizure raids, an appeal by Shaik, and a pending application to obtain original documents from Mauritius.

• July 31, 2006: Zuma and Thint managing director Pierre Moynot appeared in the Pietermaritzburg High Court before Judge Herbert Msimang. Defence teams opposed the application for adjournment and applied for a permanent stay of prosecution. The case was postponed to September 5, 2006, for legal argument.

• September 5, 2006: Judge Msimang decided to hear the State’s application for postponement first. The State announced that it had its final 500-page forensic accountants’ report and would be able to service a final amended indictment by October 15.

• September 6 and 7, 2006: The defence teams opposed the State’s application for postponement of the trial and asked Judge Msimang to strike the case off the roll. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) submitted that this was not in the public interest or the interests of a “fair and speedy” trial for the accused.

• September 20, 2006: Judge Msimang refused to grant the State’s application for a postponement and struck the case off the roll. The State said it may consider re-charging Zuma.

• December 18, 2007: Zuma was elected ANC President at the ANC conference in Polokwane.

• December 20, 2007: The NPA announced that a decision on a fresh Zuma prosecution was “imminent”.

• December 27, 2007: Acting NDPP Mokotedi Mpshe decided to reinstitute the prosecution against Zuma, Moynot and Thint.

• December 28, 2007: The new indictment served on Zuma and co-accused included a charge of racketeering, four charges of corruption, a charge of money laundering and 12 counts of fraud. The NPA announced that the trial is due to proceed in the Pietermaritzburg High Court from August 4 to December 12, 2008.

• March 11 and 12, 2008: Zuma, his attorney Michael Hulley and Thint questioned the legality of the 2005 search and seizure raids of the Scorpions and the State’s request for original documents from Mauritius in their appeals to the Constitutional Court. The NPA opposed.

• May 15, 2008: KwaZulu-Natal Judge President Vuka Tshabalala met with the defence and NPA legal teams at the High Court in Pietermaritzburg to thrash out a final trial date for Zuma, Moynot and Thint. Battle lines were drawn and the Zuma team revealed their intention to lodge an application to have the prosecution declared unlawful. The August 4 trial date was confirmed.

• June 23, 2008: Zuma filed papers to have his prosecution declared invalid and unconstitutional on August 4. He revealed that if the application failed he would bring a second application for a permanent stay of prosecution. As far as the tax evasion charges were concerned, Zuma revealed he had reached a settlement with SARS.

• July 11, 2008: The NPA filed papers in reply and applied to strike out Zuma’s “scandalous, vexatious and irrelevant” claims of a political conspiracy to prevent him becoming president, and said it would proceed with his prosecution “without fear, favour or prejudice”. Regarding Zuma’s tax affairs, the NPA said his settlement with SARS “after years of delinquency” did not clear him.

• July 21, 2008: Zuma filed answering and opposing papers and filed a counter application against the NPA to strike out the “scandalous, vexatious and irrelevant” matter. He said he had always claimed to be the victim of “ulterior political motives” and had the right to say so.

• July 23, 2008: The Society for the Protection of Our Constitution filed an application to intervene in the Zuma case as amicus curiae (friend of the court). The NPA opposed.

• July 28, 2008: KZN Judge President Vuka Tshabalala confirmed the appointment of civil rights campaigner Judge Chris Nicholson to preside over the Zuma case.

• July 31, 2008: The Constitutional Court ruled in favour of the State by a 10-to-one majority that the search and seizure raids of 2005 as well as proceedings instituted by the State to obtain 14 documents in Mauritius were legal. As a result the prosecution is able to keep and use all the documents.

• August 4, 2008: Zuma and Moynot are to appear in the Pietermaritzburg High Court before Judge Chris Nicholson. The Defence and the State are to debate the legality of the prosecution over two days, as well as the applications to strike out irrelevant matter.

The application by the Society for the Protection of Our Constitution to intervene will also be dealt with. The NPA has expressed fears this could result in a further delay in the case and even cause the case to be postponed.

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