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Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma’s appeal against a court order last week that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) must surrender the so-called spy tapes is based on the argument that the judge was mistaken.
In the application for leave to appeal to a full bench of the Pretoria High Court, Zuma’s lawyer, Michael Hulley, says the grounds for appeal are that Judge Rami Mathopo “erred” in 18 instances when he ruled the NPA must produce the tapes within five days.
The deadline was yesterday.
The tapes and other documents form the “reduced record” of the 2009 decision by then acting prosecutions boss Mokotedi Mpshe to drop corruption charges against Zuma.
The DA won a Supreme Court of Appeal order last year for the reduced record to be produced within 14 days, but acting National Director of Public Prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba failed to comply, arguing Zuma had the right to scrutinise the material to see whether any of it was part of his confidential submissions to the NPA arguing for the charges to be dropped.
Hulley argued when the matter was heard by the Pretoria High Court that releasing the tapes and other material would breach Zuma’s confidentiality.
The tapes are purportedly recordings of intercepted phone conversations between then-Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy and then-prosecutions head Bulelani Ngcuka, in which they appear to be discussing the timing of charges against Zuma in the context of the battle between the then-ANC deputy president and Thabo Mbeki for leadership.
The DA contended that the tapes were not part of Zuma’s submissions, since Mpshe had said the NPA obtained them from the National Intelligence Agency.
Judge Mathopo said in his judgment last week Zuma had failed to answer the DA’s argument.
It was also “opportunistic” for the president to argue that Mpshe had breached his confidentiality by quoting from the tapes when he had benefited from this “alleged disclosure”. “To now assert privilege or confidentiality is without foundation. It is difficult to understand why (Zuma) raises this defence at this stage,” the judge said.