Start arms deal trial next week, Jacob Zuma challenges NPA
Former president Jacob Zuma on Tuesday expressed his disappointment at yet another postponement of the case involving him and French arms manufacturer Thales at the Pietermaritzburg high court.
The JG Zuma Foundation said: “It is extremely prejudicial to [former] president Zuma for the prosecution to again fail to proceed with their prosecution when they have repeatedly claimed they have a case against [former] president Zuma and are ready to proceed with it.”
Judge Nompumelelo Radebe, who granted the consent order, said there were outstanding technical matters relating to pre-trial issues, including the certification of the trial letter, among other issues.
She said Thales' civil review application for clarity on the racketeering charges against it must be finalised by February 23.
Zuma described the National Prosecuting Authority's (NPA) lack of readiness as “unreasonable delays”.
The "arms deal" trial of former president Jacob Zuma has been provisionally postponed to begin on February 23 2021. As well as charges of corruption, fraud and racketeering, Zuma is accused of receiving an annual bribe of R500,000 from Thales for protection from an investigation into the controversial multibillion-rand arms deal.
He insists there is no evidence to prove the serious allegations against him.
“We call upon our society, regardless of their position on [former] president Zuma to demand more fairness and justice in our courts. The NPA’s ‘hide and seek’ tactics must be exposed and the real beneficiaries in the arms deal must be exposed.”
The former president accused the NPA of repeatedly lying to the courts about its state of readiness to proceed with the trial.
“In December 2019, the NPA stated in court it was ready to proceed with the case and now in December 2020, after requesting another three postponements, they are still not ready to proceed with their case, making new excuses.”
Zuma challenged the NPA to start the trial next week to show the state was ready to proceed.
“We can confidently assure the citizens of this country that even on the date now set down for February 2021, the trial will not start because the NPA will have new excuses,” said Zuma.
In response, the NPA’s Sipho Ngwema said the state has always been ready to proceed with the trial, “Save for the issues raised by the high court in its ruling this morning.
“These issues are the judgement on Thales’ application for review, the state’s answer to Thales’ application for further particulars, and further clarity on the resumption of international travel under the Covid-19 restrictions which affects witnesses and Thales’ representative from abroad.”
Only someone who is ignorant of the processes and issues involved will seek to score points from how things are unfolding.Sipho Ngwema, NPA
These, said Ngwema, were issues beyond the control of the NPA.
“This is why the postponement is by agreement by all parties, and we have committed to the provisional postponement of the matter for the resolution of pre-trial management issues.
“By agreement means all parties are on board with regards to the developments. It's only someone who is ignorant of the processes and the issues involved who will seek to score points from how things are unfolding,” said Ngwema.
The former president is accused of receiving an annual bribe of R500,000 from the French company 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.