Former president Jacob Zuma sitting alongside co-accused Thales – represented by Christine Guerrier - in the Durban High Court. PHOTO: Felix Dlangamandla/Pool
A LAST-MINUTE attempt by French arms dealer Thint to force the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to withdraw charges against it failed yesterday.

Thint, formerly known as Thales, will remain co-accused in the corruption case against former president Jacob Zuma.

Thint is accused of offering Zuma a R500 000-a-year bribe to protect it from any investigations linked to SA’s multibillion-rand arms deal. Zuma’s former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, was convicted of facilitating the allegedly corrupt deal.

In 1997, Thales won an R2.6bn stake in South Africa’s R60bn arms acquisition programme to supply combat systems for four frigates procured by the SA Navy.

When appearing in court, Zuma sat in the dock alongside Thint representative Christine Guerrier, who is no longer needed to attend court proceedings even though the case against the company still stands.

Secretary of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution and legal expert Lawson Naidoo said the NPA’s decision to reject Thint's application showed that they had a “winnable” case against the company.

NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku confirmed the news, saying that after careful consideration, the NPA had written to the arms dealer to alert it to their decision.

Thint and Zuma’s case will continue in the Pietermaritzburg High Court tomorrow, after it was moved from Durban while the Durban High Court undergoes renovations. A night vigil will be held by Zuma’s supporters tonight at Dales Park in Pietermaritzburg, and motorists were asked to be aware of the road closures around the court and park.

Roads were expected to be closed to traffic this afternoon and traffic diversions in the vicinity of the high court were to take place from 5pm due to the placement of fencing.

Participants in the night vigil and rally outside court will walk to the high court at 8.30am along Mayors Walk, West and Longmarket streets, where they will be addressed by Zuma after his appearance in court.

A concert is also planned to take place in Freedom Square opposite the high court.