Is NPA entitled to drop Zuma charges?

By Carien Du Plessis

At least two political parties are considering turning to the courts should the National Prosecuting Authority decide to drop charges against ANC leader Jacob Zuma.

A decision on the matter was expected earlier in the week, but the NPA indicated it would only say on Friday when the announcement on the way forward for Zuma's corruption case would be made.

Up to Wednesday, there had been strong indication that corruption charges against Zuma were likely to be dropped.

The Democratic Alliance's Gavin Davis on Wednesday said that it was too early to say what the DA's strategy would be on the matter.

The party was, however, consulting its lawyers about the possibilities of challenging it.

He said a lot would depend on whether the NPA gave reasons for its decision.

"But you can be assured we won't take it lying down," he said.

The DA had earlier made representations to the NPA as to why the body should not drop the charges against Zuma.

Congress of the People media head JJ Onkgopotse Tabane said COPE could not "just fold our arms and watch. We will consider our legal options, especially if we believe there was political interference," he said.

However, Tabane said COPE respected the fact that the NPA should make its conclusions without any interference, but it should be transparent.

Independent Democrat leader Patricia de Lille could not be reached for comment on Wednesday, but she earlier raised questions about whether the NPA was entitled to drop the charges if the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that the charges had to be reinstated.

Constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos, from the University of the Western Cape, on Wednesday said that, depending on the reasons given for the decision, political parties could probably have a case.

He said the NPA had to make its decisions according to prosecutorial policy, and if a decision was taken that was not in line with that policy, the decision would be illegal.

He also said the public was entitled to know the reasons for the NPA's decision.

He said the problem with taking a case such as this for revision could be that no judge would have the appetite to hear it, given the pressure the ANC had been putting on the courts.

A private prosecution was another possibility, but was unlikely to be successful, De Vos said.

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