Shaky start as Thales advocate irritates judges in Zuma corruption case
French arms company Thales' bid for a permanent stay of prosecution got off to shaky start in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday as judges continuously criticised its arguments.
Judge Thoba Poyo-Dlwati told Thales' advocate Anton Katz that he was repeating parts of his presentation, while judge Esther Steyn said she sounded like a broken record when reminding him that he was reading parts of the National Prosecuting Authority Act in isolation to suit his argument.
"When you make the argument over and over, we lose it. Let's just digest it. Sometimes a lawyer makes a good argument but ruins it by repeating themselves," said Poyo-Dlwati.
Despite the subtle warning, Katz continued to repeat technical arguments to show that former National Director of Public Prosections (NDPP) Shaun Abrahams acted irrationally when he instituted corruption charges against Thales.
He said it was a "hell-bent, knee-jerk, status quo" decision.
Abrahams reinstated charges against Zuma following the Supreme Court of Appeal's rejection of the NPA's appeal against the high court judgment declaring former NDPP Mokotedi Mpshe's decision to withdraw the charges unlawful.
Katz told the court that Thales was simply charged as an "add-on" to Zuma's case. "What the NPA have done is said, 'Bad Zuma, bad Thales; good Zuma, good Thales,'" he said.
Thales is accused of agreeing to pay Zuma a yearly R500,000 bribe for protection from an investigation into the controversial multibillion-rand arms deal. The alleged bribe was facilitated by Zuma's former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik.
* In a previous story, TimesLIVE said Zuma's charges relate to 783 payments that he allegedly received as a bribe to protect Thales from an investigation into the controversial multibillion-rand arms deal.
In an e-mail to TimesLIVE on Tuesday, Shaik clarified this by saying that there were "no 783 funds received from Thales to protect Thales from the arms deal investigation".
"The NPA allege in their court documents - which evidently is in the public domain - that [there was] a yearly sum of R500,000, a payment Thales was 'supposed' to have given to me to give to former president Mr Zuma," said Shaik.