Zuma in court next month?

2009-01-12 00:00

ANC president Jacob Zuma could find himself back in court as early as next month after the Supreme Court of Appeal yesterday effectively reinstated the 18 charges of racketeering, corruption, money laundering, tax evasion and fraud facing him.

The decision by the SCA, setting aside the judgment of Judge Chris Nicholson, gives the green light for the prosecution to proceed, and legal sources say the matter could technically be placed back on the court roll “tomorrow”.

But the reality is that legal red tape will probably ensure that the soonest it is likely to be re-enrolled is around February.

The first court date set is likely to be a provisional one when the future conduct of the trial will be mapped out.

The hard-hitting findings of the SCA, which slammed Nicholson for failing to confine his judgment to the issues before court and for overstepping the limits of his authority, will in all likelihood require that another trial judge be appointed to hear the matter.

Sources have suggested that the NPA — unhappy with the judgments to date of two judges so far appointed by KZN Judge President Vuka Tshabalala (first Judge Herbert Msimang and then Nicholson) — may want Tshabalala to consider appointing a full bench of three judges to hear future applications, including an application for a permanent stay of prosecution which Zuma plans to bring if the trial proceeds.

The Witness confirmed that charges are also going to be reinstated by the state against Zuma’s former co-accused, French-based arms deal company Thint.

The charges were provisionally withdrawn against the company and its director, Pierre Moynot, in the wake of Nicholson’s ruling.

Meanwhile, the Zuma camp is considering the possibility of launching an application for leave to appeal yesterday’s SCA ruling to the Constitutional Court — a move viewed by supporters of the NPA as another “delaying tactic”.

Zuma’s lawyer Michael Hulley said in a press statement yesterday they have noted the SCA’s judgment and are giving consideration to it “with a view to determining the appropriate legal recourse which may be exercised, which might include an application for leave to appeal to the Constitutional Court”.

He said they have also written to the National Director of Public Prosecutions to indicate they would like to make representations on the latest indictment served on Zuma in December 2007.

“The NPA has indicated its willingness to consider such representations and the parties are currently discussing the timeframes within which this should be done,” he added.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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