Africa

Zuma to face 18 charges

Prosecutors analysing former president Jacob Zuma’s representations to avoid his day in court have recommended that all charges against him be reinstated.

TLP News has reliably learnt that a team of five senior prosecutors unanimously recommended on Friday that Zuma face all charges that were previously withdrawn against him.

They are believed to have signed a memorandum which was handed to National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams on Friday, informing him of their recommendations.

Zuma is expected to face 18 charges of corruption, money laundering and racketeering, originating from 783 questionable payments he received.

This could be the first of several legal battles faced by Zuma who was recently forced by the ANC to resign. He is expected to be the central focus of an upcoming commission of inquiry into state capture.

Since Wednesday the team of prosecutors has been working around the clock, putting together an indictment detailing the charges that Zuma and his co-accused will finally face after years of protracted legal wrangling.

Sources within the security cluster said although there were several disagreements and squabbles over who should remain part of the team that would prosecute Zuma, they all agreed he failed to make a compelling argument to have his charges dropped.

“There is no turning back. Zuma has to have his day in court. I cannot imagine Abrahams ignoring the recommendations of five prosecutors he appointed to guide him with this decision,” said an NPA insider.

“In fact, KwaZulu-Natal prosecutions boss Moipone Noko insisted in December that Zuma should have appeared in court 14 days after the court ruled the decision to drop the charges was irrational.

“She [Noko] was overruled by her boss Shaun Abrahams who wanted to give Zuma another chance to make representations,” said a prosecutor privy to the details.

Noko could not be reached for comment.

Sources said Zuma and other parties involved in the matter will be informed first, after which a public announcement will be made of the decision.

Security cluster sources told TLP News that Zuma will be joined by two co-accused, including representatives of Thint holdings (Southern Africa) Pty Ltd and Thint (Pty) Ltd, from whom he allegedly received bribes.

Zuma’s first court appearance and a trial date have yet to be determined.

TLP News  has learnt that Zuma will be accused number one in the case, followed by the companies, when he appears before the High Court in Pietermaritzburg.

His co-accused will each face one count of racketeering, two counts of corruption and one of money laundering for allegedly paying the former president bribes in return for protection from investigations into contracts relating to the multimillion-rand arms deal.

TLP News  reported three weeks ago that Thint – now Thales – was approached by lead arms deal investigator Colonel Johan du Plooy who informed Thales’ South African chief executive Bijou Kanje that the company in Midrand had to nominate someone to join Zuma in the dock.

Sources said Zuma’s voluminous submissions had failed to convince prosecutors that the charges should be withdrawn.

“There was nothing new in the representations but just a repeat of what he has already said before.

“It looks as if he will cry foul about the NPA being used to fight political battles,” said a source familiar with the representations.

The official said: “The summary of his representations was that he was innocent and he questioned the timing of the charges saying the NPA failed to prosecute him a long time ago.”

TLP News  has learnt that the prosecution team will be led by Noko and advocates Lungi Mahlati SC, Billy Downer SC (who was his original prosecutor), Raymond Mathenjwa and Alnicia Coetzee.

Hawks head Yolisa Matakata told TLP News this week that all evidence for the case remained intact and had been handed to the NPA.

“We have located witnesses and have done our part,” she said.

However, Abrahams must still attend to his own case after the Pretoria High Court declared his post vacant in December. The court found that he sided with Zuma and showed bias.

The Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution requested that Abrahams make an undertaking to the Constitutional Court that he would not take a decision regarding Zuma’s future before the court ruled on the position Abrahams occupied after former prosecutions head Mxolisi Nxasana left office.

The Constitutional Court is set to hear the confirmation application on Wednesday. Until then, Abrahams may not decide Zuma’s fate.

The original case against Zuma was withdrawn in April 2009 before he became president.

The state intends calling at least 218 witnesses.

In October last year the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) set aside the decision by former prosecutions boss Mokotedi Mpshe to withdraw Zuma’s case, calling it “irrational”.

Although the ruling automatically reinstated the charges against Zuma, Abrahams allowed Zuma one last chance to explain why he should not be charged again.

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