Zuma's lawyer takes aim at the Scorpions
Arguments in an application by one of former deputy president Jacob Zuma’s attorneys regarding the Scorpions raid on August 18 will be heard in the Johannesburg High Court next Wednesday.
Julie Mahomed filed an urgent application on Tuesday, asking the court to set aside the search warrants obtained by the Scorpions, the investigating arm of the National Prosecuting Authority.
She also asked in her application that all the documents seized from her office and home, a laptop computer and the hard drive of a computer belonging to her domestic worker, be given back.
Mahomed wants the seizure of the files, documents and other objects to be declared unlawful by the court.
She will also ask that her legal costs be paid by the National Director of Public Prosecutions, who is named as the first respondent in the application.
The raids at Mahomed’s Parktown office and Killarney home took place two weeks ago.
In her supporting affidavit Mahomed said she had been consulted by Zuma since 2000 about investigations into his role in South Africa’s multibillion-rand arms purchase.
Since the start she “extensively made notes, took statements and collected documentary material for the purpose of enabling Mr Zuma to defend himself…
“A person studying my files relating to Mr Zuma’s matters could gain substantial insight into the nature of Mr Zuma’s defence to the charges brought against him, amongst other things.”
Two charges of corruption were brought against Zuma in Durban on June 29, and his case was postponed to October. The charges arose from his relationship with Schabir Shaik, convicted in June of fraud and corruption.
Shortly after Zuma’s bail hearing, her mandate to represent him in the criminal case was withdrawn, although she continued to deal with him about other matters.
Mahomed said that on the morning of the raid, she was not at her office but was informed that the raid was in progress. When she arrived at the office, she found Scorpions investigators going through her files and documents.
“I protested to the investigators that the files and all the documents in them were subject to attorney-client privilege.”
She said her objection was ignored and she was told that the search warrant entitled them to “examine everything in my office”.
Among the documents searched were some regarding a foreign client.
These, she said, were “highly confidential”.
Mahomed said that one of the investigators became “very aggressive” when she resisted the search and seizure. Others read through her files, despite her claim that they were violating client-attorney confidentiality.
She said she felt “overwhelmed and humiliated” by the search and after being asked, consented to the raid on her home without a search warrant.
“I did not know my rights,” Mahomed said.
At the time of the search she was under the impression that she was being accused of complicity in money laundering, fraud and income tax evasion.
She said if she had known on what “slender basis” the warrants against her were sought she would have “shown more resistance”.
Mahomed claimed in the affidavit that her rights to dignity, privacy and freedom to practise her profession freely had been imposed upon.
The court ordered on Wednesday that the National Prosecuting Authority must file opposing affidavits before Friday.
Mahomed has to file her answering affidavits before Monday and arguments will be heard on Wednesday.
The court also ordered that a copy of Mahomed’s computer hard drive be made and that it must be sealed and kept by the court. Her computer would then be returned to her. This has to be done on Wednesday before the close of business. - Sapa