DA’s interminable battle to get Jacob Zuma to face 783 charges nears its end
The president and the NPA have two days to convince the Supreme Court of Appeal to grant them leave to appeal a decision that corruption charges be reinstated
President Jacob Zuma and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) will have two days to try to convince the Supreme Court of Appeal to grant them leave to appeal a decision that corruption charges against the president be reinstated.
This will be the culmination of an eight-and-a-half-year battle by the DA to get Zuma to face 783 charges.
The NPA and its current boss Shaun Abrahams have been accused of protecting Zuma. For the past decade the NPA has been seen to be politically captured.
It has also been accused of bias and selective prosecution.
NPA senior leadership has also faced a credibility crisis after Abrahams and two of his senior officials were forced to reverse a decision to prosecute former finance minister Pravin Gordhan.
The decision to drop the corruption charges against Zuma was taken in April 2009 by then acting national director of public prosecutions Mokotedi Mpshe.
The decision was taken based on what became known as the spy tapes — recordings and telephone conversations that apparently showed political interference in the decision to charge Zuma.
The day after Mpshe’s announcement, the charges were withdrawn against Zuma in the High Court in Durban.
In 2010, Zuma was sworn in as president of the country.
In April 2016, the High Court in Pretoria ruled that the NPA reinstate the 783 charges against Zuma.
Following this the NPA approached the Constitutional Court in October 2016 to appeal the high court ruling.
However, the court refused to hear the matter for the time being, saying it would not be in the interest of justice to hear the matter at this stage and that it needed to go through the Supreme Court of Appeal first.
The Supreme Court of Appeal has set aside two days for the matter. If the leave to appeal is granted, the appeal will be heard immediately.
The DA wants the Supreme Court of Appeal to dismiss Zuma and the NPA’s application for leave to appeal the ruling that the charges be reinstated, saying in its heads of argument that their arguments were "void of any merit".
It contends that it is of the utmost public interest that Zuma stand trial without delay for the 783 charges of fraud‚ corruption‚ racketeering and money laundering of which he has been accused.
The NPA in its papers has warned the Supreme Court of Appeal about overstepping its boundaries.
It said the only person who had the power to discontinue the prosecution was the national director of public prosecutions (NDPP).
This power could not be interfered with by the court unless there was bad faith or intent to deceive on the part of the prosecutor.