Former African National Congress (ANC) President Jacob Zuma and his co-accused, the French company Thales, are heading back to the Pietermaritzburg High Court. Zuma is facing 16 charges of corruption, money laundering and racketeering in connection with the controversial multimillion-rand arms deal scandal in the late 1990s.
This is in relation to the multi-billion rand arms acquisition from the French arms company, formerly known as Thompson CSF which was awarded a R2.6 billion stake back in 1997. A subsidiary of the group known as “Thint” are accused of paying Zuma R500 000 a year, to use his political influence and prevent any inquiries into their illicit deals.
Now both Zuma and Thales are asking for a permanent stay of prosecution. Advocate Bonginkosi Ngubane of the High Court of SA explains what is to happen before the Pietermaritzburg High Court.
“The purpose of the application is to say the proceedings against him. This is due to the fact that our constitution, in particular section 35 sub section 3, says that an accused person must be tried or must receive fair trial, meaning that there should be no delay in the trial against him because he must know about the future. In other words he must have his day in court. He must not always wait in anticipation indefinitely,” says Ngubani.
Advocate Ngubane says the NPA will also have to convince the Court on why the decision to prosecute was delayed.
“Many judges or authorities in our law, they are in promotion of our constitution, courts are of the view or courts promote that we should adhere to our constitution and there should be no delay in finalizing cases that are before courts. More in particular in the respect of the case that is before us or the case against our former president but in balancing the two the court will balance the fact that there was a delay. In other words on the hand one the NPA will face the Hadley, trying to prove to the court as to why there was a delay in taking a decision to prosecute, on the other hand the accused person that is our former president will have to try by all means to prove to court that he was not the cause. Remember, he was the president of the country,” says Ngubani.