Zuma tapes: A timeline

October 9 2001 Schabir Shaik and French defence company Thomson-CSF raided simultaneously in four countries as part of the arms deal probe. The Zuma link to the investigation is not disclosed.

November 29 2002 Mail & Guardian breaks the story that the Scorpions are investigating then-deputy president Jacob Zuma for allegedly attempting to secure a bribe from Thomson, since renamed Thales.

2003 National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Bulelani Ngcuka announces the prosecution of Shaik but declines to prosecute Zuma despite, saying there is a “prima facie case” against him. Later that year, Ngcuka is embroiled in allegations he was an apartheid spy.

July 2004 Ngcuka resigns.

October 2004 Shaik goes on trial.


May 2005 Shaik convicted on all counts, including bribing Zuma.

June 2005 New NPA head Vusi Pikoli announces decision to charge Zuma. President Thabo Mbeki sacks Zuma as deputy president. Zuma begins mobilisation to support his legal and political comeback.

September 2006 Zuma case struck from the role when NPA not ready to proceed, given disputes about validity of raids on Zuma.

March 2007 Crime intelligence operation begins to monitor members of the NPA and Scorpions and secretly bug Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy.

May 2007 The Browse Mole report is leaked, prompting NIA investigation into the Scorpions.

November 2007 Supreme Court of Appeal rules in favour of the NPA with respect to appeals relating to various search and seizure exercises.  

Late 2007, shortly before the ANC’s Polokwane conference Security services secretly tap phone conversations involving McCarthy, Ngcuka and others outside the NPA about the timing of charges being reintroduced and their impact on the Polokwane conference.

Friday December 14 2007 NPA files papers outlining the case against Zuma in the Constitutional Court.

December 2007 Jacob Zuma ousts Thabo Mbeki as ANC president.

December 28 2007  The Scorpions serve Zuma an indictment to stand trial in the high court.

July 2008 The Constitutional Court rules that raids on Zuma were valid.

September 12 2008 Pietermaritzburg Judge Chris Nicholson holds that Zuma’s corruption charges were unlawful on procedural grounds.

September 20 2008 Mbeki resigns after his “recall’” by the ANC.

January 12 2009 Supreme Court of Appeal overturns Nicholson’s ruling.

April 2009 Acting national director of public prosecutions Moketedi Mpshe discontinues the prosecution of Zuma, citing as his reason the secret recordings. In his legal justification he describes McCarthy’s conduct as “a serious abuse of process”, but emphasises there had been a valid case against Zuma. Mpshe releases excerpted transcripts of the tapes.

2009 Democratic Alliance goes to court to have Mpshe’s decision set aside, but the North Gauteng High Court dismisses the application.

March 2012 Supreme Court of Appeal overturns the high court ruling and orders that the national director of public prosecutions produce the record of decision on which Mpshe based his decision to drop the case.

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Sam Sole Author
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Sam Sole
Sam Sole works from South Africa. Journalist and managing partner of the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism. Digging dirt, fertilising democracy. Sam Sole has over 17731 followers on Twitter.

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