Spy tapes: How the saga unfolded over the years

2018-03-16 22:40
Picture: Gallo

Picture: Gallo

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Cape Town – What has become known as the "spy tapes" case, cast a pall over South African politics, with much of former president Jacob Zuma's attempts to avoid prosecution on 16 charges of corruption, fraud and racketeering believed to be behind many of his political machinations while he was in office.

It all started in September 1999, when then firebrand PAC MP Patricia de Lille said in Parliament that there was something fishy about the arms deal.

It took three years before then deputy president Jacob Zuma was linked to the unfolding scandal. The Mail & Guardian broke the story in November 2002 and revealed that Zuma was being investigated.

In August 2003 then National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Bulelani Ngcuka said there was a prima facie case against Zuma, but it couldn't be won. That didn't include Zuma's benefactor Schabir Shaik.

Judge Hilary Squires found Shaik guilty of two counts of fraud and one of corruption in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban in May 2005. Squires found Shaik had a corrupt relationship with Zuma.

Shortly thereafter, then president Thabo Mbeki "released" Zuma as deputy president, starting a battle royale in the run up to the ANC's elective conference in Polokwane in 2007.

Zuma emerged victorious at the dramatic conference, with the charges a hurdle between him and the Union Buildings.

In December 2007, the Scorpions charged charges of corruption, fraud and racketeering.

The charges were dropped in September 2008 after Judge Chris Nicholson granted Zuma's application to have the charges dismissed. Nicholson also agreed that there were signs of a conspiracy.

Mbeki was not immune to the fallout. Days after the Nicholson verdict, the ANC "recalled" him and he resigned.

In 2009, the Nicholson judgment was set aside, but shortly thereafter acting NDPP Mokotedi Mpshe announced that the NPA would drop the charges against Zuma.

He read transcripts of phone conversations between Scorpions head Leonard McCarthy and former NDPP Bulelani Ngcuka, who at one stage said to McCarthy: "You made my day," after finding out that Zuma would be recharged. The phone conversations form part of the so-called "spy tapes".

That set in motion a long, protracted court battle between the DA, the National Prosecuting Authority and Zuma – first for the DA to get their hands on the "spy tapes" and then, after their attempt succeeded, to have Mpshe's decision declared irrational, which would open the way for Zuma to be prosecuted.

This court battle wound down in October 2017, when the Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed Zuma's and the NPA's appeal. This, after Zuma and the NPA made an about-turn and conceded that Mpshe's decision not to prosecute Zuma was irrational.

Zuma, whose faction lost out in the ANC's elective conference in December when Cyril Ramaphosa was elected ANC president, then had to make presentations to NDPP Shaun Abrahams as to why he shouldn't be prosecuted.

This failed to convince Abrahams, who announced on Friday that Zuma would be prosecuted.


Read more on:    schabir shaik  |  jacob zuma  |  corruption  |  politics

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