The Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed President Jacob Zuma’s application to prevent the release of the so-called “spy tapes” and relevant related documents to the Democratic Alliance (DA), in a judgment handed down in Bloemfontein on Thursday.
DA leader Helen Zille confirmed on Twitter that the court dismissed Zuma’s appeal against the release of the tapes, with costs.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has five days to hand over the tapes and relevant related documents.
Retired appeal court judge Noel Hurt will go through the record of decision to determine if any parts of the tapes are “genuinely” confidential, according to Zille.
The DA has won access to the full tapes, without editing or omissions. Zille said the party will then assess whether the tapes provided for any legal reason for the NPA’s decision in 2009 to drop corruption charges against Zuma.
Zille’s parting shot in response to the news was to comment that: “The wheels of justice grind slowly, but there is enough independence in judiciary for them to still grind exceeding fine [sic]”.
The application to the appeal court was the final step in a long road of contention by Zuma to keep the content of the tapes off the record and out of the hands of the DA.
On August 15, a full bench of the appeal court gave the two another chance to resolve their differences when they agreed in principle to a third party, Hurt, to be asked to judge what information formed part of the confidential representations of Zuma to the NPA.
In April 2009, then acting NPA head Mokotedi Mpshe withdrew fraud and corruption charges against Zuma. In March last year, the appeal court ordered the NPA to lodge a record of the documents on which they based their decision with the registrar of the high court.
The NPA refused to do so on the basis that it contained confidential representations by Zuma. The Pretoria high court then ordered the NPA to adhere to the original order to release a reduced record of the documents, including the tapes. Zuma appealed against this decision.
Last year Judge Rami Mathopo of the appeal court ordered the NPA to lodge a record of the documents on which the prosecuting authority based their decision with the registrar of the high court. However, Nomgcobo Jiba, who was acting national director of public prosecutions at the time, refused to do so on the basis that it contained confidential representations by Zuma.
The matter then proceeded through the courts until Zuma’s counsel, Kemp J Kemp SC, conceded on August 15 this year that he had no argument for keeping the tapes out of the hands of the official opposition, the DA. The result was the signed agreement between the two parties.