Zuma: back in court on August 25

2009-02-05 00:00

The National Prosecuting Authority will not be swayed in its bid to pursue its criminal case against Jacob Zuma — regardless of whether he is president of the country or not by the time he is expected to re-enter the dock on August 25.

This was made clear by National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Tlali Tlali when he addressed members of the media outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court yesterday.

Zuma and his co-accused, Pierre Moynot (representing French arms company Thint), made a brief court appearance yesterday.

According to the timetable agreed on by all the parties the criminal trial was postponed provisionally to August 25.

If by that date the course of the trial has not been altered by intervening negotiations and court rulings, then Zuma’s legal team will present his case for a permanent stay of prosecution. The main trial date will then be set.

In the interim the Thint companies and Moynot will present their own application for a permanent stay of prosecution in the high court on June 24 and 25.

Timelines for the filing of documents relating to these applications have also been agreed on, and were made an order of court by Judge Leona Theron.

Whether Zuma’s case comes to trial still depends on a number of factors.

The deciding factors will be whether the representations Zuma is in the process of making to the NPA succeed, as well as the outcome of his pending appeal to the Constitutional Court, which has yet to decide whether or not it will entertain such an appeal. If it does so, the Constitutional Court will re-examine the issues decided by Judge Chris Nicholson and then overturned by the Supreme Court of Appeal.

A Constitutional Court ruling in favour of Zuma would effectively put the NPA “back to square one” and again halt Zuma’s prosecution.

Similarly, if Zuma’s representations to the NPA are successful, the state will withdraw the charges against him.

Zuma’s application for leave to appeal to the Constitutional Court was only filed on Tuesday afternoon.

The NPA has 10 days to respond, and thereafter the court will decide whether or not it is prepared to hear an appeal.

The ANC, meanwhile, has announced that the organisation will apply to join in his court battles as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) in both the appeal to the Constitutional Court and Zuma’s permanent stay application.

Durban lawyer Asif Latib said he has been appointed to act for the ANC, and will file papers with the Constitutional Court by February 16.

Gauteng-based senior counsel Hilton Epstein had a watching brief for the ANC at yesterday’s proceedings.

Zuma appeared relaxed as he entered the courtroom and greeted and embraced Moynot in the dock, while photographers took pictures.

At all Zuma’s previous court appearances his bodyguards were at pains to ensure that he was not photographed in the dock.

By contrast Zuma yesterday appeared to revel in the media attention, chatting amiably to Moynot, his lawyers and others while the cameras clicked for at least 10 minutes.

Speaking briefly outside court, Moynot told The Witness he feels confident that his team will succeed in Thint’s June application for a permanent stay of prosecution. “This is the fourth time we have been charged. Once the state withdrew charges [in the Schabir Shaik case] and twice judges made rulings in our favour. I believe these charges are totally illegal.”

ingrido@witness.co.za

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