‘Zuma camp’ obtained Shaun Abrahams letter unlawfully - court hears

2019-05-24 15:13
Former president Jacob Zuma in court. (Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24)

Former president Jacob Zuma in court. (Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24)

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An explosive letter from former prosecutions boss Shaun Abrahams to former Hawks boss Yolisa Matakata, which former president Jacob Zuma's lawyers have asked KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg to consider, was obtained unlawfully.

This is according to advocate Wim Trengove, SC, who is representing the State in an application Zuma has lodged to have fraud, corruption, racketeering and money laundering charges related to the arms deal permanently set aside. 

READ:'Dead' former Thales boss and Zuma trial witness Alain Thétard found alive in Europe

A full Bench of the court heard the matter this week. Zuma's co-accused, French company Thales, also applied for a stay of prosecution. Judgment was reserved and the date for the handing down of the judgment is not clear.

News24 understands that judgment will be delivered about three months from now. 

Bombshell

It was, however, advocate Muzi Sikhakhane, who represents Zuma, who dropped a bombshell on Thursday - five minutes before the end of the proceedings - when he attempted to introduce a mysterious document as new evidence. The letter relates to allegations that there was political meddling in the Zuma matter, which started in 2003. 

In the March 2018 letter, Abrahams asked the Hawks to investigate parts of an affidavit by former Thales lawyer Ajay Sooklal. The allegations in the Sooklal affidavit reveal allegations that Thales allegedly paid a €1m bribe to the ANC and a €50m bribe to former justice minister Penuell Maduna for their assistance in having the charges against Thint – a former Thales subsidiary – withdrawn in 2003.

READ: Mbeki, Maduna and the bribes probe: Late drama in Zuma case

The details of Sooklal's affidavit first came to light last year, according to News24.

Trengove argued that the letter was completely irrelevant to the Zuma case because it dealt with allegations surrounding the withdrawal of charges against Thint/Thales. He further told the court the letter must have been obtained unlawfully, as it was part of an ongoing investigation being conducted by the NPA. 

Political interference

Advocate Anton Katz, SC, confirmed to the court that his client, Thales, had to date not been informed of any investigation relating to these charges

Sikhakhane concluded his submissions over the letter by asking the court to consider its context.

He argued that the letter showed that political interference did indeed occur in the Zuma matter, despite the State's contention that it did not. 

Trengove had also previously pointed out to the court the Supreme Court of Appeal's previous ruling that the motivation behind a prosecution did not matter. 

The court will now decide whether to allow the letter to be admitted as evidence or to reject it.

It will advise the legal teams of its decision when it hands down judgment in the permanent stay of prosecution application on a date which is yet to be determined.

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Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  courts
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