A combination of old friends and foes await Zuma in court
There will be a sea of familiar faces at the High Court in Durban on Friday — a controversial director of public prosecutions (DPP)‚ the man who brought down fraudster Schabir Shaik and‚ of course‚ in the dock‚ former president Jacob Zuma.
According to National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku‚ the five members of the prosecution team at Zuma’s first court appearance are "leaders in their own right ... They will decide who will handle the matter on Friday".
KwaZulu-Natal DPP Adv Moipone Noko will be leading the team; however, her mandate to do so has not been without criticism. Besides being the protégé of former acting national DPP Nomgcobo Jiba‚ a loyal Zuma ally‚ her appointment in 2013 came while she reportedly was under investigation for alleged maladministration and favouritism within her office.
Zuma appointed her shortly after she withdrew charges of intimidation and harassment brought against his third wife‚ Thobeka Madiba‚ by a domestic worker.
At the helm of prosecutions in the province‚ Noko also withdrew charges against Thoshan Panday‚ believed to be linked to the Zuma family‚ when he allegedly attempted to bribe former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks boss Johan Booysen after he was connected to a multi-million-rand Fifa World Cup accommodation scam.
Former president Jacob Zuma will face 16 charges in the Durban High Court. Here’s what you need to know. Video: Anthony Molyneaux
She had withdrawn corruption charges against two former ANC leaders‚ economic development MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu and speaker Peggy Nkonyeni. She was highly criticised for sanctioning the prosecution of KwaZulu-Natal Judge President Chiman Patel in 2013 for crimen injuria after a court clerk accused him of insulting her. A year later, the charge was dropped without an explanation.
Adv Raymond Mathunjwa‚ a senior deputy DPP‚ and the prosecutor in former NPA prosecutor Glynis Breytenbach’s trial‚ protected Jiba from testifying as it "would not be in the interest of justice". Breytenbach, along with her lawyer Gerhard Wagenaar‚ were charged with defeating the ends of justice and contravening the National Prosecuting Authority Act for allegedly deleting or tampering with documents stored on her work laptop in 2012.
At the time she was investigating suspended head of Police Crime Intelligence and Zuma ally, Richard Mdluli.
It will be a case of déjà vu when senior deputy DPP in the Western Cape Billy Downer joins the prosecution team on Friday. He was the advocate who secured Shaik’s conviction and pushed for Zuma to be heard in court. Shaik‚ a former financial adviser‚ is alleged to have facilitated a bribe to Zuma for French arms manufacturer Thint’s protection from investigation into the multi-million-rand "arms deal".
Eastern Cape DPP Lungi Mahlati and Bloemfontein regional head Alinicia Coetzee also form part of the prosecution team.
It’s no surprise that Zuma’s personal legal advisor‚ Michael Hulley‚ will be in court. Hulley has been the former president’s mouthpiece with regard to his legal woes and even found himself embroiled in controversy for possession of the spy tapes. The recorded conversations were referred to as evidence of collusion against Zuma between former NPA officials and former president Thabo Mbeki.
The judge presiding over the seminal court appearance on Friday has not yet been named‚ but it is believed that Zuma will appear before Judge Themba Sishi. However, judicial spokesperson Nathi Mncube said: "A judge hasn’t been appointed as it is not a trial. Any of the 20 judges at court can preside over the matter."