/ 13 March 2008

Mauritian documents may never be used

The documents the state is seeking to obtain from Mauritius may never be used against African National Congress president Jacob Zuma, the Constitutional Court heard on Thursday.

State advocate Wim Trengove said evidence gathered ”does not automatically become evidence before the court.

”Evidence becomes evidence that the state may or may not tender,” he said.

The documents, about Zuma’s role in the arms deal, include the 2000 diary of Alain Thetard, former chief executive of Thales International’s South African subsidiary Thint. In April 2007, in the Durban High Court, Judge Phillip Levensohn authorised a letter of request in terms of Section 2(2) of the International Cooperation in Criminal (ICC) Matters Act, which both Zuma and Thint are appealing.

Trengove rejected the assertion, by Zuma and Thint’s legal teams, that the state was not entitled to the letter of request because the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) already had copies of the documents — obtained prior to the 2005 corruption trial of Zuma’s friend and former financial adviser Schabir Shaik.

He also rejected the assertion that information gathered in terms of Section 2(2) of the ICC Act could not be used in a criminal trial.

Trengove said that if Section 2(2) was not used to obtain the documents, the state would have to wait for Zuma’s trial to begin before attempting to obtain the documents — and then possibly seek another adjournment while the court waited for the documents.

Kemp argued on Wednesday that the NPA was not entitled to use that section of the Act to obtain the documents.

Zuma’s advocate Kemp J Kemp said on Wednesday that allowing the documents from Mauritius to be ”imported” would ”negate” Zuma’s legal team’s ability to challenge the documents in the court.

Kemp said: ”We want someone to testify about those documents so that we can cross-examine them.”

Zuma did not arrive at the Constitutional Court on Thursday for the third and probably final day of the hearings into his application.

Pierre Moynot, Thint’s chief executive, sat alone behind their legal teams.

Originally, only two days were set aside for the hearing of Zuma’s challenge of the November 8 Supreme Court of Appeal ruling, but on Wednesday night Chief Justice Pius Langa ordered that the court reconvene on Thursday to finish proceedings.

Only a small contingent of journalists and press photographers were present at the start of Thursday’s hearing.

Earlier on Wednesday the court reserved judgement on the controversial June 2005 raids. – Sapa