There were no sinister motives behind the Scorpions’ swoop on the Johannesburg home of former deputy president Jacob Zuma, that of his financial adviser Schabir Shaik and other residences and offices on Thursday, said the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
The raids were also not conducted in response to calls by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) for the scrapping of corruption charges against Zuma, said NPA spokesperson Makhosini Nkosi.
The operation was a normal procedure in furtherance of the investigation against Zuma “to obtain as much evidence as possible”, he said.
It was executed under a Pretoria High Court order obtained on August 12.
He confirmed that the Scorpions on Thursday raided several residences and offices in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, the Western Cape and Mpumalanga in search of more evidence in the case against Zuma.
An NPA statement on Thursday said the authority “noted with regret media reports suggesting that Scorpions investigators were refused entry into the Johannesburg home of Mr Zuma. These reports were not accurate.”
Nkosi would not rule out more such operations in future.
“In as far as the evidence at our disposal is concerned, we already have enough to make out a case,” he said.
However, the NPA refused to comment further on the matter and said: “Due to the fact that the case is before a court of law and therefore affected by the sub judice rule, and the NPA’s own policy around investigations, we will not comment on this matter any further.”
Material gathered will be analysed by investigators over the next “several weeks”, Nkosi told reporters in Pretoria.
He declined to give details of the premises searched or of the individuals concerned, other than confirming that both Zuma and his financial adviser Schabir Shaik were among them.
The Scorpions left former deputy president Jacob Zuma’s Johannesburg home on Thursday with two computer hard drives wrapped in green plastic and two boxes filled with papers and notes.
Earlier, Zuma — dressed in a long-sleeved white shirt — was seen accompanying the Scorpions as they walked through the garden to the back of the house.
The Durban home of Zuma’s financial adviser Schabir Shaik was also raided by the Scorpions on Thursday.
The raids also included Zuma’s traditional homestead at rural Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal.
The NPA appealed to the media and “all concerned individuals and groups to treat this matter with the sensitivity it deserves”.
“This is in order to protect the integrity of the investigation, and also to ensure a fair trial and respect for the rights of the accused.”
Meanwhile, Zuma’s personal lawyer Julie Mahomed said her Johannesburg office was also being raided.
“They’re busy raiding my offices right now,” Mahomed said at 12.20pm.
Mahomed was the lawyer who drew up a so-called “revolving loan” agreement between Shaik and Zuma in 1999.
No original copy of this agreement has been found to date.
The agreement was produced in support of evidence that Zuma had not taken a bribe from Shaik but had meant to repay money given to him.
Asked to confirm whether the house of Zweli Mkhize, KwaZulu-Natal’s economic affairs minister, had also been raided, his spokesperson said: “We are not discussing the matter at all.”
Both Mahomed and Mkhize were called as witnesses for Shaik’s fraud and corruption trial.
Mkhize’s evidence was related to his tenure as treasurer general of the African National Congress in KwaZulu-Natal.
Former president Nelson Mandela had given R2-million to Zuma, half of which was destined for the Jacob Zuma Education Trust Fund and the other half for a company called Development Africa.
Development Africa was a trust fund set up to deal with welfare issues not strictly in the budget of the ANC.
However, when Shaik saw the remaining R1-million in Zuma’s account, he had no idea what it was for and used it for various payments, including the payment of debts in his own company. Those debts were mainly linked to Zuma, his trial was told.
Shaik still owes R500 000 to Development Africa.
Cosatu condemns raids
Cosatu condemned the Scorpions raids on Jacob Zuma’s homes on Thursday, calling them “an assault on our hard-won democratic gains”.
“It is a full-frontal attack on our revolution itself,” the Cosatu central committee said in a statement read out by general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi in Johannesburg.
The statement said the raids were a direct response to resolutions Cosatu adopted on Zuma earlier this week.
The resolutions called on President Thabo Mbeki to ensure that corruption charges against Zuma are dropped, and that he is reinstated as deputy president.
“The raids provide more evidence that the NPA and the judicial system are capable of being manipulated and influenced to take biased political decisions,” Vavi said.