NPA to appeal Zuma judgment

17th September 2008 By: Sapa

The National Prosecuting Authority will appeal last Friday's court judgment setting aside its corruption charges against African National Congress president Jacob Zuma, it announced on Wednesday.

It was still deciding whether to recharge him, it said in a statement.

The NPA said it had studied the judgment and sought legal advice and consequently had "decided to apply for leave to appeal against the judgment".

Pietermaritzburg High Court judge Chris Nicholson set aside the 16 charges Zuma faced which included racketeering, corruption and fraud in a case in which French arms company Thint also faced corruption charges for allegedly bribing him for protection during an arms deal probe.

The grounds of the appeal would include:
-- The contention that the court was incorrect in its interpretation of the constitution and the NPA Act regarding the obligation to solicit representations before recharging; and
-- That the judgment had made some serious legal findings impacting on the operational processes in the NPA.

"The NPA has yet to make a decision on whether to recharge Mr Zuma. "This decision will be made after the finalisation of the appeal. "The NPA will take the necessary steps to expedite the process," it said.

Zuma's charges emanate from the fraud and corruption conviction of his financial adviser Schabir Shaik, who another court found had facilitated payments between Zuma and Thint. Zuma was fired as deputy president of the country after that judgment.

He has been charged twice. The charges of 2005 were struck off the roll when the State was not ready to proceed with its case. He was charged again in December 2007 shortly after his election as ANC president.

In passing judgment, Nicholson said the core of the case was that Zuma had not been allowed to make representations to the NPA when it made a turnaround on a public statement in 2003 that although it had enough evidence against him the case was not "winnable".

However, much of his judgment focused on Zuma's treatment during the course of the lengthy investigation.

Nicholson considered inappropriately close the working relationship between former Justice Minister Penuell Maduna and former NPA head Bulelani Ngcuka, given the constitutionally guaranteed independence of the prosecuting authority.

He also questioned why Zuma had not been charged with Shaik, given that bribery is a bilateral crime.