Zuma: I will fight to the end

2008-01-04 00:00

“I AM innocent. I committed no crime. I will fight to the bitter end in the highest court to prove it.”

These were the determined words of Jacob Zuma yesterday, in his first public comments on the indictment charging him with fraud, corruption, bribery and racketeering, served on him last week by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

In a wide-ranging interview, Zuma spoke at length about the latest drama swirling around him, saying that he has “deep-rooted suspicion” that “senior members of the government” played an important role in the unexpected serving of the charges in the middle of the Christmas break.

Zuma reacted especially sharply to a warning yesterday by Cosatu’s KZN region that “South Africa will be plunged into chaos and there will be blood-letting” as a result of the lastest charges.

KZN Cosatu leader Zet Luzipho said: “People are angry … this time there will be blood in the courtroom”.

Zuma’s reaction was: “No, no, no. That is precisely what I don’t want. I do not want people to die and shops and cars to be set alight.

“I understand the people’s anger, because I am myself deeply disturbed by the NPA’s latest move.

“But there are other, legal means for them to air their opinions and give voice to their unhappiness.

“Violence is not the answer and I will never sanction it,” he said.

“I call on everyone to remain calm and act legally.”

Asked if he thinks a trial will indeed take place, as he is reportedly considering bringing an application for a permanent stay of prosecution, Zuma said: “I will leave that to my legal people”.

“But I can say this: people continually accuse me incorrectly of demanding my day in court.

“All that I did was to react to the blatant campaign from some quarters against me in the media, by saying that those that were pushing for me to be prosecuted, should rather charge me officially, so that I could defend myself in court.

“I cannot do it in the media.”

He said it is the fault of the NPA that people have lost faith in the prosecution against him, “because of the way it has handled the case”.

He declined to name people in the government whom he suspects of involvement in the lastest charges, but added: “It was clear from the days of [former NPA head] Bulelani Ngcuka that the government was playing a role”.

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