Pretoria - The High Court in Pretoria on Friday granted a go-ahead for a review of the decision to drop 783 charges against President Jacob Zuma on the spy tapes saga.
A full bench of judges, led by Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba, with Judge Cynthia Pretorius and Judge Billy Mothle, delivered judgment in the application by the Democratic Alliance for review of the National Prosecuting Authority’s decision seven years ago to drop the charges against Zuma.
Ledwaba read the full judgment on record because of the public interest in the matter.
"The decision... to discontinue the charges against Mr Zuma is irrational and should be reviewed," Ledwaba said.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane and federal executive chairman James Selfe were in court on Friday.
“We contend that the decision taken by the then acting National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Mokotedi Mpshe, was irrational, unreasonable and made with an ulterior political motive. This could have the effect of reinstating the charges against President Zuma,” Selfe, the chairman of the DA’s federal executive, had previously said.
Mpshe threw the case out on the basis that the so-called spy tapes – recordings of tapped phone calls between senior officials in the Thabo Mbeki administration – suggested they manipulated the timing of Zuma’s indictment on fraud, corruption and racketeering charges for political reasons.
The DA maintained that this was not sufficient reason to withdrew the charges, and Selfe reiterated that his party believed that issue should instead have been aired in trial court.
He acknowledged that Friday’s judgment would not be the final chapter in the long-running legal saga, because Zuma was certain to appeal if it went against him and the DA would do the same if it went the other way.
“Whoever loses this round is bound to appeal to the SCA and doubtless, in due course, to the Constitutional Court. It has taken seven years to get to this point in the litigation, and the finalisation of any appeals process will no doubt take a few years more thereafter,” said Selfe.
“But ultimately, the time and the cost is necessary to remind the President, the NPA and South Africa as a whole, that every decision to prosecute or not to prosecute must be made without fear or favour, and that even number one is not above the law.”