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Battle for Mauritian documents under way

Staff Reporter

Former deputy president Jacob Zuma made a surprise appearance as the battle over the release of documents from Mauritius got under way in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Thursday. A small group of Zuma supporters was outside the court and a media scramble ensued as Zuma entered the court room.

Former deputy president Jacob Zuma made a surprise appearance as the battle over the release of documents from Mauritius got under way in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Thursday.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is seeking to have documents released from Mauritius, which pertain to meetings between Zuma, French arms manufacturer Thint and convicted businessman Schabir Shaik.

A small group of Zuma supporters was outside the court and a media scramble ensued as Zuma entered the court room.

Moments before Zuma arrived, Pierre Moynot, the chief executive for Thint, was seen playing the number game, Sudoku, as he waited for proceedings to begin.

The case is expected to take two days and it is not clear when Judge Phillip Levinsohn will deliver judgement.

The NPA on December 12 asked the Durban High Court to issue a letter of request to the Mauritian Attorney General in terms of the International Cooperation in Criminal Matters Act.

Levinsohn ruled in chambers that Zuma and Thint had until February 9 to file papers opposing the application, while the state had until March 2 to respond.

He further ruled that the matter be argued in the Pietermaritzburg High Court from March 22 to 25.

The documents, held in Mauritius, include the 2000 diary of former Thint chief executive Alain Thetard.

In supporting documentation submitted at the time, it was revealed that “the entry [in Thetard’s diary] for March 11 2000 is a particularly important piece of evidence for the state and the present prosecution.

“It appears from this entry that Thetard met with ‘J Zuma + SS’ [Schabir Shaik] in Durban on that day”.

Shaik was convicted of fraud and two counts of corruption by Judge Hilary Squires in July 2005. Earlier this year the Supreme Court of Appeal upheld the Squires judgement and Shaik was sent to prison.

On the second count of corruption, Shaik was found guilty of trying to solicit a R500 000-a-year bribe from Thetard for Zuma.

In March 2006 the NPA tried to get a similar letter of request but Judge Pete Combrinck ruled it would have to be granted by the trial judge hearing the case against Zuma.

In September last year Judge Herbert Msimang struck the case against Zuma and Thint from the roll after the state had sought a postponement pending the outcome of the Shaik’s appeal and a challenge to the search-and-seizure raids carried out on the homes and businesses of Zuma, his attorneys and Thint.

The outstanding Mauritian documents were at the time presented to the court as a reason for the postponement of the case.—Sapa

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