Pietermaritzburg - The Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday granted an order setting out the timetable for the prosecution of former president Jacob Zuma and French arms manufacturer Thales.
However, Zuma’s legal team continued to claim that their client was not being treated fairly by the “dismissive” National Prosecuting Authority.
In the order granted by KwaZulu-Natal deputy judge president Mjabuliseni Isaac Madondo, the case was postponed to 20 May 2019 and both Zuma’s (Accused 1) and Thales’ (Accused 2) applications for permanent stays of prosecution would be heard from 20 to 23 May.
By January 7, the State is to supply Zuma’s defence team with documentation it had requested, said Madondo.
The State is to deliver its answering papers by 1 March 2019. Zuma and Thales would have to deliver their replying papers by 1 April and their heads of argument by 18 April. The State’s heads of argument is due by 10 May.
Zuma sat alone in the dock as Thales’ representative Christine Guerrier, who lives in France, had been excused.
Although Friday’s hearing only last 20 minutes, Mike Hellens SC, acting for Zuma, made much of the fact that the defence team had sought and not yet received documentation that it believes is pivotal to proving justification for a permanent stay of prosecution.
“After a number of reminder letters, of which each one was met by silence or ‘our client is thinking about it’ type of responses, we were told that they were not going to give us anything and if we wanted documents from the State, we must apply. That is two months after we wrote [and we consequently had] a shorter time to design our stay of prosecution. Our response was that this was a further frustration of Mr Zuma’s rights, unjustifiably,” said Hellens.
He said that in their permanent stay application, the defence explained why they were entitled to the documents and why not receiving them “was a game of catch me if you can”.
Hellens also said that the state had displayed a “dismissive” attitude towards his client by not informing him that a proposed change to the indictment regarding Thales had since been withdrawn.
State advocate Billy Downer SC said the State informed Thales that the issue was “no longer an issue and was put aside”. He said he did not inform Zuma as it did not involve Zuma, but Thales.
Said Hellens: “It may have been that the charge was levelled against [Thales], but the evidence surrounding the miasma context would have had an effect on my client. And we would have needed to know that the indictment was not or was amended.”
A criminal trial was not “compartmentalised”, said Hellens.
“In the permanent stay application we will argue that this is another indication of the dismissive attitude that is demonstrated by the NPA to our client in the broader context of the case we make for a permanent stay.”
Zuma is facing one count of racketeering, two counts of corruption, one count of money laundering and 12 counts of fraud for allegedly receiving bribe money from Thales via his former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik. The case relates to the country’s contentious arms deal, in which Thales secured a multi-billion rand contract to supply combat systems for the South African navy.
Thales is facing one count of racketeering, two counts of corruption and one count of money laundering.
African News Agency (ANA)