Zuma should face criminal charges, court says

2016-04-29 12:28

Pretoria  - The High Court in Pretoria on Friday ruled that President Jacob Zuma should face the criminal charges the National Prosecuting Authority dropped. 

"Mr Zuma should face the charges as outlined in the indictment," Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba said. 

He found that former acting National Director of Public Prosecutions, Mokotedi Mpshe, erred when he decided to withdraw charges against Zuma in April 2009.

"Having regard to the evidence before us, we find that Mr Mpshe found himself under pressure and he decide to discontinue the prosecution of Mr Zuma and consequently made an irrational decision," Ledwaba said.

In September 2008, Pietermaritzburg High Court judge Chris Nicholson dismissed criminal charges against Zuma, citing a political conspiracy to influence the case by former president Thabo Mbeki and others.

Nicholson's decision was taken to the Supreme Court of Appeal, and overturned. Zuma subsequently appealed this in the Constitutional Court, setting in motion a direct approach to the NPA to make written and oral representations on why the case should be dropped.

On April 6, 2009, Mpshe said recordings of telephone conversations between then Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy and former National Prosecuting Authority head Bulelani Ngcuka, showed political interference in the decision to charge Zuma.

The two were recorded discussing the timing of bringing charges against Zuma. The charges related to his alleged involvement in the country’s multi-billion rand arms deal.

Zuma’s former financial adviser Schabir Schaik was found guilty of fraud and corruption by the Durban High Court in June 2005. He tried to solicit a bribe for Zuma from a French arms company involved in the deal.

On April 7, 2009, the charges against Zuma were withdrawn in the High Court in Durban.

Zuma was sworn in for his first term as president in May that year, following general elections.

Ledwaba found Mpshe failed to act independently in reaching his decision. 

"Considering the situation in which he found himself, Mr Mpshe ignored the importance of the oath of office which demanded him to act independently and without fear and favour," he said. 

Seated in the front of the court gallery, DA leader Mmusi Maimane impulsively gave a single clap of applause as he heard the judgment. 

He walked out of the court, throwing his hands in the air, telling journalists: "I told you we would win."


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