Zuma’s corruption co-accused wants permanent stay of prosecution

15 November 2018 - 19:11 By Genevieve Quintal
Former president Jacob Zuma in court. Picture: SUPPLIED
Former president Jacob Zuma in court. Picture: SUPPLIED

French arms company, Thales, former president Jacob Zuma’s co-accused in his corruption case, has lodged its application for a permanent stay of prosecution in a bid to have the charges against it reviewed and set aside.

Thales is claiming that, given the circumstances surrounding the prosecution, its constitutional right to receive a fair trial has been violated.

The company is accused of conspiring with Zuma’s former financial adviser Schabir Shaik, his Nkobi Group and the former president to pay him R500,000 a year as a bribe in exchange for protection during an investigation linked to the arms deal.

It has been more than a decade-long battle for Zuma, who has been trying to avoid facing corruption charges. 

The charges were withdrawn against Thales and Zuma in 2009, just before he became president of the country. Last year, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) overturned the decision to withdraw the charges against Zuma, after he conceded that it was irrational to withdraw them.

In March this year, former national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) Shaun Abrahams reinstated the charges, and the criminal case resumed.

Thales, earlier this year, made submissions to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), requesting that the decision to charge it be reviewed and dropped, but this request was turned down. Now the company has filed for a  permanent stay of prosecution with the high court in Durban.

Zuma, during his last appearance in the high court, also indicated that he would be lodging his own application for a permanent stay of prosecution.

KwaZulu-Natal deputy judge president Mjabuliseni Madondo, in July, gave Zuma and Thales until November 16 to lodge their applications for a stay of prosecution and postponed the case to November 30.

On Thursday, Thales said one of the “principal reasons” for the company’s contention as to why the re-instituting of the charges held no validity is that the charges against it were withdrawn in 2009, and this had not been challenged or set aside by any court.

The company argues that since the charges were validly withdrawn, the NPA has not followed its own protocols.

“Thales reiterates that it has no knowledge of any transgressions having been committed by any of its employees in relation to the awarding of the contract for the combat systems for South Africa’s corvettes,” Thales said, adding that it respects the law and has fully co-operated with local authorities at all times and will continue to do so.