NPA to hand over Zuma records to DA

2012-04-13 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The DA will soon have in its possession all the documents on which the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) based its decision to withdraw all corruption-related charges against President Jacob Zuma shortly before the 2009 elections.

This follows a decision by the NPA yesterday not to appeal to the Constitutional Court over the appeal court’s recent ruling that the decision to withdraw the charges may be reviewed.

The NPA initially argued in the North Gauteng High Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal that any decision by the national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) whether or not to prosecute an accused person is wholly independent and cannot, therefore, be reviewed.

The appeal court found that such a decision can indeed be reviewed — and therefore, too, the 2009 decision by the then acting NDPP, advocate Mokotedi Mpshe, not to prosecute Zuma.

NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga announced yesterday that the NPA’s leading legal experts had decided not to appeal the appeal court ruling.

Mac Maharaj, Zuma’s spokesperson, confirmed on inquiry that Zuma would not appeal either.

DA federal executive chairperson James Selfe welcomed the decisions not to appeal.

“This will allow the review procedure to begin in the North Gauteng High Court now and should prevent any further delays in this case, which has been dragging on since early 2009.

“The DA is now awaiting the documentary record underlying the NPA’s decision, excluding the statements which President Zuma made on condition of confidentiality.

“When we receive those documents we will study them with our legal team and decide whether to proceed with the application that the decision not to prosecute Jacob Zuma was rational and defensible within the law, or whether it was purely a political decision,” Selfe said.

University of Cape Town constitutional expert Professor Pierre de Vos said the records to which the DA has gained access appear also to include sound recordings by the state security services.

Jurists yesterday agreed that the documents that the NPA has to submit to the registrar of the high court in Pretoria will be public documents as soon as they have been submitted.

Pretoria constitutional expert Professor Marinus Wiechers said the accepted policy, including in the appeal court and the Constitutional Court, is that documents submitted to a registrar have to be available for general perusal by the public, unless some privilege or other exists regarding those documents.

“The appeal court did not, however, grant any special privilege to the documents that the NPA has to submit. The only condition set by the appeal court was that the documents have to be submitted within 14 days of the date of the court order on March 20. No order was made that these should be for perusal solely by a judge or by the DA.”

But, he said, this would also depend on how the registrar in Pretoria interprets the appeal court order.

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