The attempted murder docket in the case involving Nompumelelo Ntuli, the estranged wife of President Jacob Zuma, has been sent back to the Hawks because of numerous shortcomings in the elite unit’s investigation into the alleged poisoning of Zuma by Ntuli.
In the meantime, Ntuli has been advised by her legal team that she should sue the police and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to recover wasted legal costs, as well as for the trauma she suffered after being booted out of the president’s Nkandla residence in KwaZulu-Natal.
Ntuli and her three minor children with Zuma are maintained by the taxpayer, thanks to her status as the president’s spouse.
She was kicked out of Nkandla in January 2015 by then minister of state security David Mahlobo, amid allegations that she had tried to poison the president.
According to City Press’ sister publication Rapport, the criminal docket is now being passed between the NPA and the police like a political hot potato.
In August last year, the Hawks said they were giving attention to issues in the docket that had been highlighted by the NPA.
The docket would then be sent back to the NPA for a final decision on prosecution.
But NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku said on Thursday that Torie Pretorius, head of the NPA’s litigation unit for priority crime, had examined the dossier and sent it back to the Hawks.
According to Mfaku, Pretorius had pointed out “a lot of outstanding issues” in the docket.
Ulrich Roux, Ntuli’s attorney, said the legal team had written four letters to NPA head Shaun Abrahams since September 2016, requesting more information about the case.
“We have not received any proper response, except for the fact that the NPA alleges that it is investigating the matter,” said Roux.
In the letters, Roux requested the NPA to clearly indicate whether his client was being regarded as an accused person.
He said the accusation was that somebody had allegedly put poison in Zuma’s food, although the nature of the alleged poison was unknown.
Roux said Mahlobo had instructed MaNtuli, as she is popularly known, to leave Nkandla in January 2015 while an investigation was being conducted.
“There is no way whatsoever that she would have committed this crime,” said Roux.
“She denies absolutely everything.”
In June 2015, Roux accompanied Ntuli to Hawks offices in Durban to answer questions.
“There is absolutely no reason why this case should be delayed. The NPA cannot even confirm if my client is an accused person or a witness.
"The only reason for this is simply that there isn’t any evidence which can lead to prosecution.
“If there was proof that she had ostensibly tried to poison Zuma, they would have arrested and charged her with attempted murder.
"The fact that she had been kicked out of Nkandla in January 2015 already, and has still not been charged, is a definitive indication that the state and the police have no witnesses or evidence against her.”
Roux added that if there was any proof that she had committed a crime, “we would be more than happy to prove her innocence in court”.
He has also advised Ntuli that she should launch a civil claim against the NPA and the police when the charge is withdrawn.
This would be to recover the legal costs she has incurred, as well as for the trauma that she and her children endured after being kicked out of Nkandla.
She suffered emotional damage as a result, said Roux.
The Sunday Times reported that Zuma was diagnosed as having been poisoned while in the US in 2014.
He then travelled to Russia, where doctors confirmed the diagnosis.