Former president Jacob Zuma is expected to appear in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg on Friday, hot on the heels of the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) decision to turn down representations from his co-accused, French arms company Thint (Thales), on why it should not be prosecuted.
The embattled former president faces charges of corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering, while Thint faces charges of corruption and fraud.
The case involves 783 questionable payments to Zuma allegedly received from the company in connection with the arms deal.
On Wednesday, the NPA confirmed to News24 that it rejected representations on why Thint should not be prosecuted, and that it had written to the arms company.
“We believe there are reasonable prospects of [a] successful prosecution,” said NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku.
The charges relate to the controversial arms deal, formally known as the Strategic Defence Procurement Package. It was a multibillion-rand military acquisition project finalised in 1999.
In 1997, Thales won a R2.6bn stake in South Africa’s R60bn arms acquisition programme to supply combat systems for four frigates procured by the navy.
Former NPA boss Mokotedi Mpshe dropped the charges against Zuma in 2009, based on the so-called “spy tapes” recordings, which were presented to him by Zuma’s legal team.
The tapes were recordings of telephone conversations between then Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy and former NPA boss Bulelani Ngcuka that Zuma’s legal team claimed showed political interference in the decision to charge him.
The charges were subsequently withdrawn – just before Zuma was sworn in for his first term as president.
During his last appearance in June, Zuma’s financial woes took centre stage.
News24 reported that Zuma was meant to submit an application to have the NPA’s decision to prosecute him reviewed by his lawyer, Michael Hulley, who told the court that due to issues relating to legal costs, they were unable to do so at that time.
Hulley did, however, indicate to the court that Zuma still planned to pursue this at a later stage.
Zuma appeared in the dock alongside Christine Guerrier, vice-president of dispute resolution and litigation for Thint, France.
Hundreds of supporters gathered outside the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban to support Zuma’s at his last appearance.