Zuma fights to get case called off
Former president Jacob Zuma’s legal team has argued that South Africans have been too “blinded by hatred” for him to understand how deeply his rights have been compromised by the National Prosecuting Authority.
Advocate Muzi Sikhakhane suggested that the belief that Zuma was “scum” had prevented many people from acknowledging the “egregious” way in which he had been treated.
He said Zuma had been deeply “dehumanised” and stigmatised by the way the NPA had pursued its case against him, which had left him “synonymous with corruption”.
Judge Thoba Poyo-Dlwati then asked when Zuma’s name would ever be free of the stigma against him, “because he has said he wants his day in court”.
Sikhakhane responded that “your order condemning the unconstitutional conduct towards him will go some way towards curing the stigma”.
“While Zuma will have scars [from the stigma], the respect of the constitution would be upheld,” he said.
Sikhakhane had earlier argued that “violations of the constitution, even in pursuit of the ugliest criminal we hate, cannot be condoned”.
The advocate was responding to questions from judge Bhekisisa Mnguni, who pointed out that, although then-NPA head Mokotedi Mpshe chose to withdraw charges against Zuma because of political meddling in the timing of when he was charged, there was no evidence that the evidence against Zuma had been interfered with.
The state continues to maintain it has a “very strong case” against Zuma, and has slammed his application for a permanent stay of the case against him as yet another attempt by him to avoid ever facing trial.
Zuma’s lawyers have argued that it is irrelevant whether he is guilty of the racketeering, corruption, fraud and tax evasion charges against him, but say the high court needs to interrogate whether, given the NPA’s “egregious” conduct and the “unreasonable delay” in Zuma’s prosecution, he can still receive a fair trial.
Crucial to their case is their argument that Zuma should have been charged with his former financial adviser Schabir Shaik, who was convicted of corruption in 2005.
Sikhakhane read chunks of the so-called “Spy Tapes”, in which then-Scorpions head Leonard McCarthy was recorded swearing at two Appeal Court judges who ruled against the state in Zuma’s challenge to the legality of the Scorpions’ raids conducted on him.
He used these excerpts to argue that McCarthy and former prosecutions head Bulelani Ngcuka, who Zuma’s lawyers contend maliciously chose not to put him on trial with Shaik, conflated their political objective of supporting then-president Thabo Mbeki with key decisions about how the case against Zuma should proceed.
Zuma’s advocate, Thabani Masuku, has further argued that the evidence given by newly appointed Asset Forfeiture Unit head Willie Hofmeyr in support of the NPA’s 2009 decision to drop the case against Zuma – in which he argued that there was a political motive to the prosecution – proved that the state had been responsible for “constitutional violations”...