/ 16 November 2018

Zuma expected to file papers seeking a permanent stay of prosecution

The former president survived a series of scandals which would surely have ended anyone else's career.
Former president Jacob Zuma. (Reuters)

Former president Jacob Zuma is expected to file papers in the KwaZulu-Natal high court seeking a permanent stay of prosecution.

The application is expected to be filed on Friday.

French arms company Thales — which has been charged along with Zuma in his corruption case — has also filed papers seeking a permanent stay of prosecution so the charges against it can be reviewed and set aside.

State prosecutor Billy Downer had previously asked the court to order that the application for a permanent stay of prosecution be lodged at the end of August.

In his first appearance as Zuma’s counsel, Mike Hellens SC argued that the case had a 17-year history and that it would be impossible for them to prepare in a month.

READ MORE: ‘Politics are at play’ — Zuma counsel

He also highlighted that there had been interference in the independence of the decisions to prosecute Zuma.

Meanwhile, in papers filed on Thursday, Thales argued that a permanent stay of prosecution against it “constitutes just and equitable constitutional relief in the circumstances”.

“In this application Thales’ cause of action is the violation of its right to a fair trial on the basis of both its right to have any trial against it begun and concluded without unreasonable delay and its right to adduce and challenge evidence,” reads the application.

This comes after lawyers for both the company and Zuma told the KwaZulu-Natal high court in Pietermaritzburg in July that they were preparing applications for a permanent stay of prosecution.

According to Thales they are challenging the validity of the prosecution and the unreasonable delay in the prosecution.

The company argues that the prosecution has not followed its own protocols.

In a statement on Thursday, Thales spokesperson Cédric Leurquin said that while the arms company was charged with serious criminal offences, it had a right to a fair trial.

“One of the principal reasons for Thales’ contentions as to why the ‘reinstitution’ of charges holds no validity is that criminal charges against the company were withdrawn in 2009 and this action was not challenged or set aside by any court”.

He said Thales argued that since the charges were validly withdrawn, the prosecution has not followed its own protocols.

“In relation to the renewal of prosecution, Thales cites that the prosecution is required to act procedurally and substantively in a rational and fair manner – the company says that this has not been done.”

Leurquin said Thales had no knowledge of any transgressions committed by any of its employees in relation to the awarding of the contract for the 1999 arms deal.

SPECIAL REPORT: The arms deal

“Thales respects the law, has a zero-tolerance policy on corruption and has cooperated fully with the local authorities at all times, and will continue to do so.”

The case involves 783 questionable payments Zuma allegedly received from the company in connection with the arms deal.

Former National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss Shaun Abrahams announced in March that the NPA would go ahead with the prosecution of Zuma on 16 charges, including corruption, money laundering and racketeering. — News24