The high court in Pretoria on Friday set aside the decision to withdraw 783 criminal charges against President Jacob Zuma on the basis that it had been irrational.
The case against Zuma could now potentially resume.
Acting National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Mokotedi Mpshe dropped the criminal charges against President Jacob Zuma on the basis that the so-called spy tapes – recordings of tapped phone calls between senior officials in the Thabo Mbeki administration – suggested they manipulated the timing of Zuma’s indictment for fraud, corruption and racketeering for political reasons.
So prosecution of Zuma not a certainty. Ruling does however put NPA under pressure.
A lot of pressure. #SpyTapes
— Karyn Maughan (@karynmaughan) April 29, 2016
The Democratic Alliance maintained that this was not sufficient reason to withdrew the charges, and James Selfe reiterated on Thursday that his party believed that issue should instead have been aired in trial court.
“This court finds there is no substance in submissions of respondents. We find that Mr Mpshe found himself under pressure, and consequently made an irrational decision. Mr Mpshe ignored the importance of his oath of office,” Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba found.
“The DA’s application succeeds: The decision of first respondent in 2009 to discontinue prosecution is reviewed and set aside.”
Opposition greets ruling
The DA welcomed the court’s finding, describing the judgment as an “overwhelming victory for the Rule of Law”. The party urged that the NPA follow up the ruling and continue with the charges against Zuma.
“Despite it being an absolute outrage that President Zuma has, for almost six years, used taxpayer’s money to bankroll his opposition to the release of the Spy Tapes, he will be held to account as the law and due process demand,” the DA said in a statement on its website.
“President Zuma must finally come to the realisation that he is not above the law. The NPA must, to regain respect of the people, act expeditiously and continue with the 783 charges of fraud, corruption and money-laundering against Jacob Zuma.”
— EWN Reporter (@ewnreporter) April 29, 2016
The presidency said it has noted the decision of the high court, and will “give consideration to the judgement and its consequences”.
“The court has ordered that the decision taken by the Acting Head of the National Prosecuting Authority on 1 April 2009 to discontinue the prosecution against President Jacob Zuma should be reviewed and set aside,” it said in a statement.
“These charges were formally withdrawn by the High Court in Pietermaritzburg during April 2009 and as such there is no pending litigation before court against President Zuma.
“As a party to the proceedings, the President has noted the decision of the court and will give consideration to the judgement and its consequences and the remedies available in terms of our law.” – Additional reporting by African News Agency