/ 29 November 2007

Zuma raids: ‘Judicial process’ divided

Jacob Zuma and his lawyer Michael Hulley are claiming in papers filed with the Constitutional Court on Wednesday that search-and-seizure raids by the Scorpions invaded their constitutional right to privacy, and dignity.

In the papers filed with the court, Hulley claims that the raids are so controversial that although the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruled in the state’s favour, the ”judicial process” was equally divided over the raids.

He said: ”The court of first instance [the Durban High Court] and the two judges in the SCA found for the applicants herein; three judges of the SCA found for the respondents.

”The outcome in the SCA has simply demonstrated that the issues are contentious and of principle. It is thus clear also that there are reasonable prospects of success on appeal.”

He goes on further to say: ”This of course is of fundamental importance in controlling the extent of the invasion into the constitutional rights of particularly privacy, dignity and property inherent in search and seizure operations.”

Hulley said the search and seizure warrants gave permission for documents related to the investigations into Zuma to be seized, but that the problem was the warrants never ”remotely described” the investigation.

Such a vagueness in the warrants ”thus allowed on the face of it, a general ransacking of the premises targeted”.

Zuma and Hulley’s premises were raided by the Scorpions on August 18 2005. The raids were carried two months after Judge Hilary Squires convicted Zuma’s former confidante and financial adviser Schabir Shaik on two counts of corruption and one count of fraud in the Durban High Court.

The corruption charges related to Shaik’s attempt to solicit a R500 000 a year bribe from French arms manufacturing giant Thales International (formerly Thomson CSF) for Zuma.

Referring to the day of the raids, Hulley said: ”Indeed it was abundantly clear in this case that the searchers and the searched had no inkling as to what could and should be searched for and what could be seized pursuant to the warrants.

”There are a number of sound reasons based on the rule of law and the protection of the constitutional rights of privacy, fair trial and dignity, which imperatively calls for the warrant to inform the searcher and the searched of the proper parameters of the search and seizure authorised.”

Hulley states that the minority ruling by the Supreme Court of Appeal ”is with respect, correct”.

In a second set of papers file with the Constitutional Court Zuma claims that Judge Philip Levensohn threatened Zuma’s constitutional rights to a fair trial when he ruled in favour of granting the letter of request on April 2 after legal teams for Zuma and Thint had argued against the letter in the Pietermaritzburg High Court in March.

The documents the state seeks from Mauritius 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 fraud convict Schabir Shaik.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) alleges that an agreement on a R500 000-a-year bribe for Zuma was reached at this meeting.

Zuma claims the state did not make the application with ”clean hands” and that Levensohn did not have the power to issue such a letter in terms of the International Cooperation in Criminal Matters Act.

An appeal against against the letter of request was rejected by the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein on November 8.

There are two weeks to go until the ANC national conference, at which Zuma may be elected president of the ruling party.

The deadline for the National Directorate of Public Prosecution to say whether it intends opposing the application, is December 20, when the ANC conference will be in its final hours. – Sapa