/ 16 March 2018

Rewind to 2005: Jacob Zuma has been charged

NDPP Shaun Abrahams at the NPA offices in Silverton
Shaun Abrahams is prosecuting soldiers accused of murdering an army commander in June 2015. (Paul Botes/M&G)

Charges against former president Jacob Zuma related to the arms deal have been reinstated.

“I am of the view that there are reasonable prospects of a successful prosecution of Mr Zuma on the charges listed in the indictment served on Mr Zuma prior to the termination of the matter by Mpshe SC,” Shaun Abrahams, National Director of Public Prosecutions at the National Prosecuting Authority announced on Friday.

These charges,which include charges of corruption, racketeering and fraud may carry jail time. Abrahams said there are 16 charges standing from an 18 charge indictment.

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The charges include: one count of racketeering, two counts of corruption, one count of money laundering and 12 counts of fraud.

Zuma has always protested his innocence, even though his financial adviser, Schabir Shaik was imprisoned for bribing him.

In 2009, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) dropped all charges against Zuma, saying recordings of intercepted telephone calls, known popularly as the “Spy Tapes” showed his prosecution was being manipulated for political ends.

The case had been ongoing for more than a decade, and in recent years Abrahams, a Zuma ally, has been criticised for refusing to charge the former president and for risking the independence of the NPA.

Abrahams insisted on Friday that he had always been committed to the case and he had been ready to make the announcement at the end of February. He said that an agreement with Casac and pending court cases prevented him from earlier notifying the country of his decision.

Zuma was informed that he will be charged earlier on Friday, Abrahams said. The former president submitted representations earlier this year on why he should not be charged after he missed his initial deadline last year.

In his representation, Abrahams said, Zuma “disputed the allegations against him” and said that he did not have the prerequisite intentions to commit those crimes.

As the M&G reported last year, the tapes, given to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) as part of Zuma’s “representations” as to why he should not be prosecuted, were recordings of telephone conversations, mostly between former Scorpions head Leonard McCarthy and the first national director of public prosecutions, Bulelani Ngcuka.

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They revealed that McCarthy had consulted extensively with Bulelani Ngcuka, a known Mbeki supporter, about when to indict Zuma – with a view, said Zuma, to bettering Mbeki’s chances of winning the ANC elective conference in Polokwane.