Judgement reserved in Zuma documents hearing

Judgement was reserved by the Supreme Court of Appeal on Friday in the appeal hearing of Jacob Zuma and French arms company Thint against efforts to get documents from Mauritius.

The African National Congress deputy president and Thint have appealed against an application by the national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) to get original documents from Mauritius related to investigations against them.

The state is investigating possible corruption charges against Zuma and Thint linked to South Africa’s multimillion-rand arms deal.

Earlier, the court heard that the NDPP is gathering evidence against Zuma and Thint in a way that does not meet judicial requirements.

Thint’s legal counsel, Peter Hodes, said the state has copies of the documents sought in Mauritius, which were used in the Schabir Shaik trial.

“It is clear that this does not contend information for investigation,” Hodes said of a letter of request issued by a high court judge for documents in Mauritian authorities’ possession.

Zuma and Thint are appealing against the issuing of the letter.

The state applied for the letter to secure about 14 documents in advance of any possible trial as part of its continuing investigation.

The documents allegedly include the 2000 diary of Alain Thetard, the former chief executive of Thales International’s South African subsidiary Thint, which reportedly details a meeting in March 2000 between him, Zuma and the convicted Shaik, former financial adviser to Zuma.

The National Prosecuting Authority alleges that an agreement on a R500 000-a-year bribe for Zuma was reached at this meeting, related to South Africa’s controversial multibillion-rand arms deal.

Hodes told the judges the NDPP does not need the documents at this stage. “You do not need it before the trial. If you need it you can get the documents [when the trial begins].”

He said if the NDPP is gathering evidence, Thint’s right to a fair trial, if prosecution would be instituted, would be affected. “My client has a right that pre-trial procedure be conducted lawfully.”

Earlier, Zuma’s counsel argued the state’s premature attempt to gather evidence violates his right to a fair trial. Kemp also argued that the letter of request for the documents was for evidence. “Why not follow the normal route?” he asked.

Just before lunch, counsel for the NDPP, Guido Penzhorn, said the prosecuting authority is simply seeking to secure the documents in advance of any possible trial.

The case continues.—Sapa

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