Former president Jacob Zuma’s application for a permanent stay of prosecution is underway in the high court in Pietermaritzburg, with his legal team arguing that his prosecution on corruption charges is politically motivated.
Zuma’s counsel, Muzi Sikhakhane SC, has told the court that Zuma was “a victim of mob justice” on the part of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), whose then leadership wanted him jailed to end his political career.
Zuma and French arms dealer Thint have gone to court to have the case against them, based on a series of payments to Zuma by his former financial advisor, Schabir Shaik, halted.
Shaik was jailed for 15 years over the payments, one of which included a R500 000 payment from Thint for protection from investigators probing South Africa’s controversial arms deal, but was later released on medical parole based on his suffering a terminal illness.
Sikhakhane told Judge Jerome Mnguni the case against Zuma had been manipulated from the beginning by then Scorpions head advocate Leonard McCarthy and then national director of public prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka.
Sikhakhane said that Ngcuka was a self-confessed “disciple” and political ally of former president Thebo Mbeki and had decided to run a ‘clandestine’ investigation into Zuma.
Ngcuka had ignored advice from prosecutor Billy Downer SC that Zuma and Shaik should be charged together over the alleged bribes, instead proceeding with charges against Shaik to eventually get a conviction of Zuma, the “big fish” in the case.
Sikhakhane said he would use the so-called spy-tapes to show malfeasance on the part of McCarthy, who had referred to judges as “fucking idiots” and to Zuma as “that fool”.
Sikhakhane said the court needed to forget who Zuma was and view him as “a son and a father” whose legal rights had been violated by the NPA, whose ‘pattern of behaviour’ pointed to a conspiracy to nail his client.
Zuma sat next to the rest of his legal team while Sikhakhane delivered his opening address to the application, which will be heard until Friday.
A number of Zuma’s supporters, — including uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association boss Carl Niehaus, former finance minister Des van Rooyen and KwaZulu-Natal transport MEC Mxolisi Kaunda — were in court for the application, as were his sons, Duduzane and Edward.
Black First Land First leader Andile Mngxitama was also in attendance, as was former ANC KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary Super Zuma.
Outside the court several thousand supporters have turned up to show support for Zuma, who is expected to address them at the end of the day’s proceedings.