Zuma set for showdown with arms deal prosecutors as NPA eyes more charges
Durban - A leaked confidential letter from the lead prosecutor of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in the Jacob Zuma corruption trial has revealed that the state is not yet ready to start the trial.
The email was allegedly written by Advocate Billy Downer, SC on Thursday last week and it was sent to KZN Judge President, Achmat Jappie.
Zuma, who was charged for alleged corruption linked to South Africa's multi-billion rand arms deal in April 2018, wants the trial to be heard later this year.
Among the reasons advanced by the state in the email is that they want to amend the charge sheet against Zuma because KPMG omitted some alleged payments that were made to Zuma by convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik and his Nkobi group.
“It is correct, as you suspected, that the state will apply that the indictment be amended to include a number of payments from the Shaik/Nkobi group to Mr Zuma that FTI discovered during their review of the old KPMG report and the production of the new report that was handed to the defence in 2019. The amendment essentially entails the replacement of the schedule to the indictment to include the new figures," he said.
Zuma and his legal team are not willing to have the case delayed and want it to be heard from October. Downer said that was communicated to them by Advocate Muzi Sikhakhane SC, the other lawyer in Zuma’s legal team.
“Mr Sikhakhani (sic) informs me that Mr Zuma will in all probability not move from his position that a trial date later than October will not suit him. Mr (Barry) Roux for Thales would find suitable either an October 2020 or February 2021 date,” he said.
The Director of Public Prosecutions in KZN, Advocate Elaine Zungu confirmed that the correspondence was forwarded and said it was routine.
"Any issues arising will be dealt with during proceedings; the merits of which are not discussed as they are sub judice," she said.
The spokesperson of the Office of the Chief Justice, Nathi Mncube, said Jappie has not seen the letter.
“The Judge President has not seen the letter from NPA. The court has been closed for decontamination and will open tomorrow (Tuesday). Only then will the JP have access to his emails,” Mncube said.
Zuma’s lead lawyer Eric Mabuza refused to comment on the matter when he was asked whether or not he was aware of the email. However, sources close to Zuma’s legal team said they are aware of the email and they have since raised objections with Jappie. This is as they view it as an attempt to unduly influence the process as the defence should be present when anything that has to do with the case is discussed.