African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma’s bid to have search-and-seizure raids declared unconstitutional will not derail the state’s case against him and French arms company Thint, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said on Tuesday.
NPA spokesperson Tlali Tlali said the decision to prosecute Zuma had taken into account the outcome of the ANC president’s Constitutional Court (Concourt) bid against a Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruling in early November.
”The NPA embarked on a process of consideration when it made its decision [to charge Zuma and Thint],” said Tlali.
On November 8, the SCA ruled that the five warrants used to search the premises of Zuma and his attorney, Michael Hulley, were legal.
At the end of November, Zuma and Hulley claimed in papers filed with the Constitutional Court that the search-and-seizure raids by the Scorpions invaded their constitutional right to privacy and dignity.
In the papers filed, Hulley claimed that the raids were so controversial that although the 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 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.”
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.
Zuma and Hulley’s case has not been placed on the roll of the Constitutional Court, which resumes on February 15. The court could still decide to hear the case or it could simply make an order based on the documentation before it.
In papers filed in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on December 28, Zuma was summoned to appear in court on August 4.
Zuma faces 16 charges in total — one count of racketeering, two counts of corruption, one count of money laundering and 12 counts of fraud.
The two South African subsidiaries of Thales International (formerly Thomson-CFS) — Thint Holding (Southern Africa) and Thint — each face a charge of racketeering and two counts of corruption.
Meanwhile, top leaders of the ANC said last week they had ”grave misgivings” about the timing and handling of corruption charges against Zuma.
The ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) said after its first meeting since Zuma was elected party president that it questioned the NPA’s handling of the charges against him and said Zuma would still be their candidate for state president in 2009.
In a statement after the meeting, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said the party’s top body had ”reaffirmed its support for the ANC president during these trying times”.
”It [the NEC] confirmed that the ANC president will lead the ANC election campaign as the organisation’s candidate for president of South Africa in the 2009 election,” Mantashe added.
Zuma has said he will stand down from his position if found guilty of any offence but he has steadfastly insisted on his innocence.
Zuma was sacked by Mbeki in 2005 after his financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, was found guilty of soliciting bribes. — Sapa, Reuters