Mbeki abused NPA: Hofmeyr

2015-03-31 21:20
Willie Hofmeyr (Picture: Beeld)

Willie Hofmeyr (Picture: Beeld)

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Cape Town - The Thabo Mbeki administration nonchalantly used the National Prosecuting Authority as a political tool against Jacob Zuma, Willie Hofmeyr said in the authority's court response to the DA's application for a review of the withdrawal of corruption charges against the current president.

In his 50-page affidavit Hofmeyr, the head of the Asset Forfeiture Unit and a deputy national director of public prosecutions, writes that upon hearing the so-called spy tapes, acting NPA head Mokotedi Mpshe was shocked at the extent of collusion around the case.

"Mpshe was shocked at the cavalier tone and light-hearted manner in which [Leonard] McCarthy and [Bulelani] Ngcuka appeared to regard the NPA as merely a political tool to be placed at the disposal of the Mbeki administration."

Hofmeyr added that McCarthy, at critical points in the investigation against Zuma, discussed it with former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils and took direction from him.

"As far as I was concerned, Kasrils was a confidant with whom McCarthy could discuss strategy about the Zuma prosecution. I believe he also served as an intermediary between McCarthy and Mbeki."

The affidavit is the first part of the NPA's long-awaited answer to the DA's argument that dropping the charges against Zuma six years ago, shortly before the 2009 elections, in a move that eased his path to the presidency, was irrational on Mpshe's part.

Spy tapes

It was filed in the early hours of Tuesday morning, after a court-imposed deadline of midnight had lapsed.

The documents play up the content of the spy tapes - wire-tapped conversations between McCarthy and Ngcuka, who were respectively head of the Scorpions and former head of the NPA when the decision to press ahead with the case against Zuma was taken.

At issue in their conversations was the timing of the indictment, and whether it should happen before or after the African National Congress's Polokwane conference in December 2007, where the rivalry between Mbeki and Zuma came to a head.

"Correctly or incorrectly, they believed that Mbeki's chances of defeating Zuma would be strengthened if the prosecution were to be delayed.

"Ultimately, McCarthy ensured that the prosecution was delayed. He did so for one reason only, to bolster Mbeki's chances of successfully defeating Zuma," Hofmeyr states.

After Mbeki lost the presidency of the ANC to Zuma, McCarthy acted "with haste" to finalise Zuma's prosecution. McCarthy told Ngcuka he wanted to charge him by December 21 2007 and ordered prosecutor Billy Downer to bring most of the prosecution team back from leave.

Hofmeyr added that McCarthy instigated the Operation Browse Mole report as another means of undermining Zuma, and that political interference by the Mbeki government in the NPA's affairs had reached proportions that shocked senior managers at the authority.

He went on to say it was a "lame excuse" that Vusi Pikoli, Ngcuka's successor as NPA head, was suspended because of a breakdown in relations between him and former justice minister Bridget Mabandla.

"Pikoli was suspended because he refused to bow to pressure from Mbeki."

Affidavit 'hyped'

James Selfe, the chair of the Democratic Alliance's federal executive, on Tuesday described Hofmeyr's affidavit as "very hyped".

He said the documents filed in the case, in which Mpshe and Zuma are respondents, nowhere counter the DA's argument that the criminal case against Zuma had been sound.

"If anything their affidavit substantiates the strength of the case against Zuma," he said.

"If they are saying the timing of the charges was at the behest of Mbeki, my answer would be 'so what'? They take 159 pages to tell us that."

Selfe said the DA believed Mpshe should have let the matter proceed to court and allowed a judge to decide whether the conversations captured in the spy tapes rendered the case fundamentally flawed."

Kasrils told Sapa that Hofmeyr had said nothing he had not explained before.

"I knew McCarthy professionally; had a few meetings with him at his request in the run-up to Polokwane and after, never advised whether DPP should charge Zuma or not."

He dismissed Hofmeyr's suggestion that he was a conduit between McCarthy and Mbeki: "Pure conjecture."

"He would be hard put to prove that in any court of law. Presumptions are invariably about attempting to build a case to suit one's purpose, aren't they? "

Read more on:    npa  |  afu  |  da  |  willie hofmeyr  |  bulelani ngcuka  |  thabo mbeki  |  jacob zuma  |  zuma spy tapes

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