Browse Mole investigation played no part in Zuma prosecution - Vusi Pikoli says in court papers

2019-03-16 08:42
Vusi Pikoli (Netwerk24)

Vusi Pikoli (Netwerk24)

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Former National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Vusi Pikoli has denied allegations that the Special Browse Mole Report, authored by the Scorpions more than 10 years ago, reveals political manipulation of former president Jacob Zuma's prosecution.

The report contained information regarding alleged assistance organisations in the country and various African states provided to Zuma to further his presidential ambitions.

In his affidavit, filed in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court, Pikoli denied the report was intended to be used against Zuma in the investigation, which led to current criminal proceedings.

Bulelani Ngcuka and Shaun Abrahams were among the former NDPPs who filed affidavits, while Mokotedi Mpshe and former Scorpion's head Leonard McCarthy refused to consult with the State.

Zuma has filed a 300-page affidavit, asking for a permanent stay of prosecution.

The former president faces serious charges, including one count of racketeering, two counts of corruption, one count of money laundering, and 12 counts of fraud relating to 783 payments he allegedly received in connection with the controversial arms deal.

READ: 5 new developments in the Zuma corruption case and what they mean

In his affidavit, Pikoli said the contents in the Browse Mole report had nothing to do with Zuma's prosecution.  

"Its contents are not relevant to the charges against Mr Zuma and it was kept from the investigation and prosecution team," Pikoli said

According to Pikoli, McCarthy said that he had received information from an investigating judge in Switzerland, saying that during investigations, the judge came across a number of corrupt transactions that involved government officials in Angola and it appeared that some money had been laundered through South African banks.

At the time, McCarthy said the Scorpions had been monitoring Zuma's bail conditions and had noted that in a period of approximately five months between August and December 2005, he travelled to Libya, Angola and Mozambique on about five occasions, Pikoli said.

"McCarthy said the [Scorpions] had established that Mr Zuma had received into his bank accounts what it regarded as unexplained income."

Pikoli stated in his affidavit that he had no reason to think McCarthy commissioned the report to use in Zuma's prosecution flowing from his involvement and interactions with his former financial advisor and convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik and French arms giant Thales. 

"None of its contents had any bearing on the charges against him in that prosecution," he said. 

Pikoli said he did not mention the Browse Mole report to anyone in the Cabinet until July 2007 when he told then president Thabo Mbeki about it after it had been leaked.

ALSO READ: Zuma's application for stay of prosecution must be dismissed, NPA argues in court papers

"During my time as the NDPP, it was not handed to the investigators or prosecutors handling his prosecution on the charges flowing from his involvement and interactions with Shaik and Thales."

In his affidavit before the High Court, Zuma argues that the gathering of intelligence of this kind and the manner in which it was done by the Scorpions was illegal and outside its jurisdiction.

"What is clear is that I was illegally targeted in this operation and details of my private finances were illegally obtained.

"It will be contended by my legal team that the conduct of the NPA was unlawful in launching the Browse Mole investigation. It was an unlawfulness motivated by a 'get-Zuma-at-all-costs attitude' and it is not possible to determine the extent of the harm in the form of a fair trial and general prejudice which this conduct had caused me. 

"It was at least incumbent on the NPA to have provided me with all information pertaining to the Browse Mole Report which it had at its disposal in August 2006. 

"Even Pikoli seems to have acquiesced in the continuation of the compilation of the Browse Mole Report rather than to stop it," Zuma argued.

Zuma also stated that the fact that he was charged on June 20, 2005 had the added benefit for the prosecution that they could monitor his movements, especially abroad.

"As an influential political figure, I obviously had friends and support in high places and ties with several African and European political leaders and figures. After my dismissal as deputy president of South Africa, I still frequently travelled abroad and had contact with these persons.

"The NPA mounted an intelligence-gathering exercise which was nothing more and nothing less than a spying exercise and grossly invasive of my privacy and confidential dealing with public figures in other countries which I had every right to expect would be treated confidential.

"It is clear that this fake intelligence exercise was at the instance of McCarthy and was used to prosecute me." 

But Pikoli denied that the Scorpions acted unlawfully in conducting the Browse Mole investigation.

He has also denied that it was incumbent on the NPA to disclose the existence of the report in its response to Zuma's 2006 application for a permanent stay of his prosecution, or to provide the former president with information pertaining to the report.  

He said during his time at the NPA, there was no "get-Zuma-at-all-costs attitude". He added that the decision to prosecute and the resulting investigation and prosecution into charges arising from his relationship with Shaik were "good-faith" actions by the NPA.  

During Zuma's last appearance in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg on November 30, 2018, Deputy Judge Mjabuliseni Madondo ordered that permanent stay of prosecution arguments, together with the criminal proceedings, be heard on May 20.

Thales also filed its application in the High Court to have the prosecution permanently set aside. It claimed that it had been denied a fair trial because of unreasonable delays, and that its right to present and challenge evidence had also been denied.

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Read more on:    npa  |  jacob zuma  |  vusi pikoli  |  politics

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