Everything you need to know about the Zuma ’Arms Deal’ corruption case
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Durban – Almost two weeks after locking horns with the Zondo commission which is probing allegations of state capture, former president Jacob Zuma returns to the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday to fight graft charges.
The corruption, fraud and money laundering charges emanate from the country's procurement of arms in the 1990s and Zuma is alleged to have pocketed bribes in return for providing political protection to one of the winning bidders, Thales, a French arms company.
The state first charged him in the matter in June 2005, just a few days after his former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik was convicted for his role in the alleged corruption.
Shaik was convicted for bribing Zuma and he was also instrumental in asking Thales to pay an annual bribe of R500 000 to Zuma.
The state charged Zuma shortly after securing a conviction against Shaik.
However, in an unexpected turn, the state kept on dithering until September 2006 when the late Pietermaritzburg High Court judge, Qedusizi Msimang, threw the case out of court.
Msimang lambasted the state for failing to follow simple rules of prosecuting a suspect and he said the state “went from one disaster to another”.
“There were clear guidelines which should have informed their decision to proceed.
“They ignored those guidelines at their own peril,” he said.
The State said it would file the charges later and it did in December 2007 when the NPA was headed by advocate Mokotedi Mpshe.
Mpshe would later in April 2009 withdraw the charges after receiving representations from Zuma’s lawyers who had submitted the infamous tapes which sought to prove that there was political manipulation of the case.
That paved the way for Zuma to become president without having the cloud of the charges hanging over his hand.
But that was short-lived as the DA launched a court challenge to set aside Mpshe's decision and in 2016 it was set aside and the decision was upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeal a year later.
The NPA delayed reinstating the charges while giving Zuma a chance to make fresh legal representations. It was only in 2018, a few days after he was ousted as state president that he was charged again.
In response, in mid-2019 Zuma asked the court to permanently quash the charges, arguing that the case “is tainted by political interference”.
His bid failed and he allowed the case to proceed.
Just when it was ready to proceed in June this year, Zuma’s co-accused in the matter, Thales, lodged a court challenge to get the NPA to withdraw the racketeering charges against it, arguing that it had no hand in Shaik allegedly bribing Zuma and as such, those charges are unlawful.
The state argues that “Thales knew that Shaik was bribing Zuma and knowingly joined the enterprise” hence the decision to charge the company.
With the full bench of the Pietermaritzburg High Court yet to hand down judgment on the matter, another postponement of the Zuma corruption trial is on the cards.