/ 11 March 2008

Zuma in court: ‘What should be in warrant?’

There is no statute determining exactly what provisions should be in a search warrant, the Constitutional Court heard on Tuesday as African National Congress president Jacob Zuma and French arms company Thint began a last-ditch bid to prevent key documents from being used against them.

Zuma and his legal team will argue that his constitutional rights were violated when the Scorpions raided his home, as well as that of his lawyer Michael Hulley, in 2005.

Both Zuma and Hulley are claiming that their constitutional rights to privacy, dignity, property and a fair trial were violated by the raids.

They are challenging a Supreme Court of Appeals (SCA) ruling made on November 8.

The SCA ruled then that five warrants used to search the premises of the two men were legal — a fact disputed by the two.

The controversial raids at properties belonging to Zuma in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal and at Hulley’s Durban office on August 18 2005 were carried out 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.

No statute

Peter Hodes, the advocate representing Thint, said: ”There is no statute that says what should be in the warrant.”

Hodes said the only legal reference he had seen governing the content of a search warrant was an old Orange Free State ordinance from the 1800s.

He said: ”It is necessary to emphasise the fact that there was a divided [Supreme] Court,” adding that implied that there was a reasonable prospect of success on appealing the Supreme Court of Appeal’s decision on November 8 to uphold the 2005 search-and-seizure raids.

Conceding that there was no statute, Hodes cited case law stating that the search warrants needed to be clear to the person being searched and as well as those carrying out the searches.

Zuma’s legal team was also expected to argue that his constitutional rights were violated.

Zuma arrived at the court amid a heavy security presence and the sound of camera shutters as photographers attempted to shoot pictures.

A heavy police presence was visible around the buildings while journalists packed the press gallery, craning their necks to get a view of Zuma.

State prosecutors Wim Trengove and Billy Downer arrived early in the morning in their bid to thwart Zuma’s attempts to appeal the raids.

These raids netted the state documents that it wants to use in its case against Zuma.

Zuma shook hands with his attorney, as well as the chief executive of Thint, Pierre Moynot, before taking his seat immediately behind his legal representatives.

Lawyers for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and Zuma shook hands before Zuma arrived at the court.

Moments after Zuma sat down next to Moynot, the photographers were ushered out of the court.

Access to the usually open court was strictly controlled by security staff and police, with seats reserved in the front for ”VIPs”.

ANC spokesperson Jessie Duarte was among the few people who managed to secure a space in the public gallery.

Zuma’s advocate, Kemp J Kemp, just smiled and said ”I’m OK” when asked for comment.

Hulley, for Zuma, said: ”We are here to be heard, we will take it from there.” – Sapa