‘Spy tapes’ case in court

2013-07-24 08:28

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Lawyers representing acting prosecutions head Nomgcobo Jiba will today have to explain why she refused to give up the “spy tapes” that got President Jacob Zuma off the hook on corruption charges.

The North Gauteng High Court will this morning hear argument in a preliminary matter in the DA’s bid to have corruption charges against Zuma reinstated.

The DA is asking the court to compel Jiba to give up the so-called “spy tapes” to which the party argues it is entitled in terms of a Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) order handed down last year.

The SCA ruled that a political party such as the DA was entitled to challenge the 2009 decision by Mokotedi Mpshe to drop fraud and corruption charges against Zuma.

The court ordered the NPA to file what it called a reduced record of all the documents that supported the decision to drop the corruption charges.

The record was described as “reduced”, because the The SCA ordered that it should exclude confidential representations Zuma had made to the NPA.

It is exactly this part of the SCA’s judgment that Zuma’s lawyers will attempt to use to prevent transcripts of the spy tapes from seeing the light.

Advocate Kemp J Kemp, for Zuma, will argue that Zuma’s attorney, Michael Hulley, had brought the “spy tapes” to the attention of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), thus rendering them part of Zuma’s confidential submissions, which cannot be revealed.

This was despite the fact that Zuma never gave copies of the tapes to the NPA.

In 2009, Hulley had only allowed prosecutors Sibongile Mzinyathi and Willie Hofmeyr to listen to recordings of the tapes, which are telephone intercepts of conversations between former NPA head Bulelani Ngcuka and then Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy.

The NPA subsequently contacted the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) which declassified the tapes and released them to the NPA.

Mpshe made four pages of transcripts available to the public at the time he announced that the corruption charges would be dropped, but the DA is now asking for them to be disclosed in full.

In court papers, Kemp argues that “were (it) not for Zuma’s disclosure of the transcripts to the NPA in its written representations, the (NPA) would not have accessed such transcripts and recordings with the NIA”.

The DA, however, has argued that neither the NPA nor Zuma “has ever explained how there can now be a legal impediment to the release of the remainder of the recordings, when no such impediment existed at the time the statement (announcing corruption charges were to be dropped) was made”.

For her part, Jiba’s lawyers will have to explain why she allowed Zuma’s legal team to first decide whether the spy tapes formed part of the reduced record.

Jiba has maintained that this was part of an agreement between advocates representing the DA, the NPA and Zuma, but the DA denies that such an agreement ever existed.

The DA has also asked that Jiba be held in contempt of court for failing to file the record.

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