/ 11 March 2008

Zuma’s legal battle continues

African National Congress president Jacob Zuma arrived at the Constitutional Court on Tuesday 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 court 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 against search-and-seizure 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.

Zuma’s attorney, Michael Hulley, said: ”We are here to be heard, we will take it from there.”

Zuma and his legal team will argue that his constitutional rights were violated when the Scorpions raided his home, as well as that of 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 Zuma and Hulley 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. — Sapa