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NPA reveals why its former head Bulelani Ngcuka did not charge Zuma

12 March 2019 - 15:09 By TimesLIVE
Schabir Shaik outside the Durban high court during his 2015 trial.
Schabir Shaik outside the Durban high court during his 2015 trial.
Image: Gallo Images/Foto24/Alet Pretorius

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has explained why its former head Bulelani Ngcuka did not charge Jacob Zuma along with his financial adviser Schabir Shaik.

The explanation is contained in a response by the NPA to Zuma's legal team which is seeking a permanent stay of prosecution for the former president on corruption, racketeering and fraud charges, Business Day reported on Tuesday.

Shaik was convicted of fraud in 2005 and sentenced to 15 years in jail.

Although he and his company were found to have paid Zuma in exchange for his influence, Zuma was not prosecuted at the time.

Prosecutor Billy Downer said that Ngcuka, at the time, believed there was insufficient witness testimony linking the contents of evidence - contained in documents gathered during the investigation – to Zuma.

Business Day reported that Ngcuka was concerned about a lack of evidence directly implicating Zuma. The NPA strongly denied that he chose not to prosecute because he feared that Zuma would clear his name.

Zuma has denied wrongdoing and maintains that the revived charges against him are tainted by prosecutorial interference and undue delays.

TimesLIVE reported in late 2018 that the case against Zuma stemmed from events that played out from 1997, when French arms company Thompson-CSF, now known as Thales, secured a R2.6bn contract to provide four navy frigates to SA as part of a multibillion-rand arms deal.

As corruption rumors grew, the state alleged that Thales had agreed in 2002 to pay R500,000 to Zuma, then the country's deputy president, for his "political protection" in any investigation – a deal allegedly brokered by Shaik.

It was also the state's case that Shaik and his Nkobi Holdings made 783 payments to Zuma totalling more than R4m in the 10 years between October 25 1995 and July 1 2005.

In return for these payments, the state claims, Zuma abused his formal position as MEC and as deputy president of the ANC to do unlawful favours for Shaik and Nkobi Holdings.

Shaik served only a fraction of his sentence after being controversially released on medical parole on account of having a terminal illness.

"In defiance of medical convention and against the best predictions of a team of doctors, convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik has survived a decade since his release from prison on medical parole," Times Select reported on Monday.

He told Times Select that he was still plagued by blood pressure issues. "Today I am not well at all ... my blood pressure you know ... I can't talk now actually because I am very sick," he said.