POLITICS
16/03/2018 14:29 SAST | Updated 16/03/2018 18:50 SAST

Zuma Will Be Prosecuted – Abrahams

NPA head Shaun Abrahams has announced that former president Jacob Zuma will be charged with fraud and corruption and have his day in court.

Graphics 24

IN SUMMARY:

- Jacob Zuma will stand trial on charges of corruption, fraud, racketeering and money laundering.

- The trial will probably take place in the High Court in Durban.

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Zuma was notified of the decision through his lawyers on Friday.

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Graphics24/Theuns Kruger

Abrahams has announced that the director of public prosecutions in KwaZulu-Natal, Moipone Noko, will make arrangements for Zuma's appearance in court and the trial that will follow.

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"Mr. Zuma's representations have therefore failed."

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"In the interests of transparency and justice, a trial will be the best place to determine the truth . . . there is a reasonable chance of success of a conviction."

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Abrahams: "Justice must not only be done, but must be seen to be done."

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Zuma's representations relates to the alleged abuses of the prosecutions process, Abrahams explains. This includes political meddling as well as the delay in prosecution.

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Billy Downer, the lead prosecutor in the Schabir Shaik trial, was part of the team that had to consider whether or not Zuma should be prosecuted.

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Abrahams running through the chronology of the Zuma saga, from the laying of charges to the last decision by the Supreme Court of Appeal.

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"Zuma was charged with: one count of racketeering, two counts of corruption, one of money laundering, 12 counts of fraud."

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Abrahams: "The investigation has passed through all NDPP's, as well as acting NDPP's, since investigations started into former president Jacob Zuma."

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Shaun Abrahams, the national director of public prosecutions, has begun addressing the press conference. He is joined by, among others, the controversial Nomgcobo Jiba.

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[EARLIER]

When judge Hillary Squires found Schabir Shaik guilty in the High Court in Durban on three counts of corruption and fraud on June 2, 2005 – for soliciting bribes on behalf of Jacob Zuma – it was thought it would spell the then-deputy president's end.

No specific finding against Zuma was made, but from the thousands of hours of expert testimony and forensic evidence put before the court, it was clear Zuma had a case to answer. His name appears a total of 474 times in the judgment, with the word "corrupt" or "corruption" appearing 14 times in the same sentence.

Squires said in his judgment:

"Shaik is quite plainly anything but a fool. Our assessment of him over the prolonged period he spent in the witness box, supplemented by the tone of his letters and his contributions to shareholder and board meetings revealed in the minutes, show him as being ambitious, far-sighted, brazen, if not positively aggressive in pursuit of his interests, and discernibly focused on achieving his vision of a large successful multi-corporate empire – and moreover, someone who believed Zuma was destined for high, if not the highest, political office."

He continued:

"It would be flying in the face of common sense and ordinary human nature to think that he did not realise the advantages to him of continuing to enjoy Zuma's goodwill to an even greater extent than before 1997; and even if nothing was ever said between them to establish the mutually beneficial symbiosis that the evidence shows existed, the circumstances of the commencement and the sustained continuation thereafter of these payments, can only have generated a sense of obligation in the recipient."

Two years before, on August 23, 2003, the then-national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) Bulelani Ngcuka had decided not to pursue charges against Zuma. He told the media: "We have concluded that, whilst there is a prima facie case of corruption against the deputy president, our prospects of success are not strong enough. That means that we are not sure if we have a winnable case. Accordingly, we have decided not to prosecute the deputy president."

This, despite his own prosecuting team recommending that charges be instituted and a prosecution initiated for Zuma's role in bribes flowing from South Africa's controversial arms deal.

Squires' judgment sent shockwaves through the body politic, and two weeks later Zuma was dismissed by then-president Thabo Mbeki. The phrase "mutually beneficial symbiosis", in the context of South Africa's strict anti-corruption laws, was damning. Surely, given Ncguka's position and the Squires judgment, a Zuma conviction was sure to follow?

But while his friend and associate Shaik went to jail (he was eventually released on medical parole), Zuma went on to become head of state and was elected ANC leader twice over the following almost 15 years.

That might all come crashing down on Friday.

The NDPP, Shaun Abrahams, will announce his decision about the Zuma prosecution at 3.30pm.