16/03/2018 16:59 SAST | Updated 16/03/2018 18:52 SAST

Arms Deal Heroes 'Vindicated' By Zuma Prosecution Decision

Those who struggled to hold Zuma and his conspirators to account for the arms deal feel elated now that he will be prosecuted.

Jacob Zuma announces his resignation as president of South Africa, February 14, 2018.
Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
Jacob Zuma announces his resignation as president of South Africa, February 14, 2018.

Some of the original whistleblowers and those who fought against the injustices of the arms-deal saga have described feelings of elation after the National Prosecuting Authority announced its decision to prosecute former president Jacob Zuma.

In a landmark decision, national director of public prosecutions Shaun Abrahams announced that Zuma's representations on why he should not be prosecuted were unsuccessful. Zuma will now be prosecuted on 18 charges and 783 counts of fraud, corruption, racketeering and money laundering – almost 13 years to the day the same charges were originally brought against him.

Former NPA boss Vusi Pikoli, who first brought the charges against Zuma in 2005, told HuffPost that this Abrahams' decision on Friday could have been made as far back as 2008.

"This decision has taken some time; it has been a long drawn-out process, and the decision could have been made as far back as 2008... This is a triumph for South Africa's constitutional democracy and our rule of law," Vikoli said.

In a statement, Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille said she felt vindicated.

De Lille, at the time a PAC MP, brought a motion in Parliament regarding alleged irregularities in the arms deal. This happened on September 9, 1999, and the motion was tabled just weeks later.

"I feel vindicated that after so many years, this matter will finally go to court... I was contacted by the NPA about three months ago, asking me if I will be prepared to be a witness should they decide to charge Zuma. I said yes, I would testify," she said.

"[The NPA] have finally made the right decision, and they should have made this decision before we wasted millions of rands in taxpayers' money on the Seriti Commission (established to investigate the arms deal)."

Former ANC MP Andrew Feinstein, who was a vocal critic of the governing party's decision not to investigate the arms deal allegations and author of "The Shadow World: Inside The Global Arms Trade", said he is "elated".

"It is twelve years too late, but better late than never. This is a great day for South Africa and for South Africa's justice. I greatly look forward to testifying against Zuma. It was never a personal vendetta, it was about the vigour and health of our democracy and our system of law," he said.