DA moves to secure Zuma charges documents
The DA is taking legal steps to force the National Prosecuting Authority to produce complete documents, including tapes, relating to its 2009 decision to drop corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma.
"We can announce today that we have instructed our lawyers to lodge the appropriate application with the North Gauteng (Pretoria) High Court to compel the NPA to comply with the order of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) and to produce the record of decision," Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille told reporters in Cape Town on Wednesday.
In March this year, the SCA ordered the NPA to hand over the documents, giving it a 14-day deadline -- up to April 10 -- in which to comply.
Zille said on Wednesday the first correspondence containing documents was received from the State Attorney by her party on April 12, two days past the deadline. These however had amounted to "mainly the same documents the DA had forwarded to the NPA arguing why the prosecution should continue".
The DA is challenging the NPA's decision to drop the charges, in the High Court in Pretoria.
Zille said the documents sent on April 12 had no relation to the evidence before the NPA that might have caused it to withdraw the charges against Zuma.
"They also, crucially, excluded the transcripts of the infamous spy tapes, which the NPA had claimed were the basis of the decision to discontinue the prosecution."
At that time, the NPA had also asked the DA for more time to allow it to consult Zuma's legal team.
"Since then, the State Attorney, on behalf of the NPA, has dodged, ducked and dived, but has still not produced the complete reduced record of decision, as described in the judgment.
"This record includes all documents, tape recordings, memoranda and other materials."
Zille said the SCA order had only excluded confidential representations that Zuma had made to the NPA at the time the charges were dropped, including any confidential responses to these.
"There was a very limited number of documents we were not allowed to see," she said.
The DA leader said the NPA's disregard of an SCA order was a serious matter.
"That the NPA has been determined to delay executing a court order, even to the point of being -- we believe -- in contempt of court, raises several questions," Zille said.
Among others, this included whether there was in fact no record to produce, and if it was possible that there was no rational basis on which the crucial decision, to drop the charges, was taken.
"Was it therefore taken on political grounds, and is the NPA party to placing someone above the law just because he holds high political office?" she said.
The decision in 2009 to drop the charges against Zuma -- taken by then acting National Director of Public Prosecutions Mokotedi Mpshe -- was made a month before he was elected president.
Zille suggested the NPA's reluctance to hand over the documents was the "tip of the iceberg" involving unlawful surveillance and the misuse of State institutions.
"The reason we believe that we're not getting access to the record is that it may raise fundamental questions around the extent of extra-legal and unlawful surveillance of people. And the extent to which the institutions of State were being abused for political ends."
There was no way one could contemplate or imagine how President Zuma's legal team had come to be in possession of the tapes unless this were happening.
"We believe that is just the tip of the iceberg, and if we get the reduced record -- which is what the court has ordered -- many, many more things will come out," she said.
Zille said that once all was known, "an entire pack of cards will come tumbling down".
She said the NPA's failure to comply with the SCA order was a first.
"As far as we can tell, it is unprecedented for the NPA to be in contempt of court. It is untenable that an institution of State, constitutionally mandated to uphold the law without fear or favour, has blatantly defied an order of the SCA. This is unacceptable, unconstitutional and unlawful."
The NPA was not immediately available for comment.