Zuma must face corruption charges – High Court

The North Gauteng High Court has found that the former National Prosecuting Authority chief, Mokotedi Mpshe, acted impulsively and irrationally when he decided to drop the charges of corruption laid against president Jacob Zuma in 2009.

The court ruled that the NPA should review its decision and set it aside, saying that Zuma should face the charges as set out on the indictment in which the president was facing 783 charges of corruption.

The ruling is the second blow to Zuma in as many months, following a recent Constitutional Court ruling saying the president violated the country’s top laws in dealing with the Nkandla saga.

In its ruling, the High court said that Mpshe’s decision to drop the charges was inexplicable, and that the turnaround was irrational. It said that his feelings of anger and betrayal caused him to act impulsively – and that even after learning of the contents of the so-called ‘spy tapes’, he was in a position to proceed with the case.

This sets the groundwork for the next steps in the case which has been going on for nearly a decade.

In September 2008, Pietermaritzburg High Court judge, Chris Nicholson, dismissed criminal charges against Zuma, citing a political conspiracy to influence the case by former president, Thabo Mbeki, and others.

Nicholson’s decision was taken to the Supreme Court of Appeals, and overturned. Zuma subsequently appealed this at the Constitutional Court, setting in motion a direct approach to the NPA to make written and oral representations on why the case should be dropped.

Explaining the NPA’s decision to drop the charges, former national director of public prosecutions, Mokotedi Mpshe, on April 6 2009, cited what became known as the “spy tapes” as the reason .

They are recordings of telephone conversations between then Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy and former National Prosecuting Authority head Bulelani Ngcuka, and apparently show political interference in the decision to charge Zuma.

On April 7 2009, the charges against Zuma were withdrawn in the High Court in Durban.

Zuma was sworn in for his first term as president in May that year, following general elections.

According to the DA’s federal executive, James Selfe, this is unlikely to be the end of the line as the High Court ruling will likely be challenged in the SCA, and ultimately end up in the Constitutional Court.

Update: The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called for the NPA to immediately proceed with the charges against Zuma.

This morning the North Gauteng High Court set aside the decision by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to discontinue prosecuting President Jacob Zuma for the 783 charges of fraud, corruption and money-laundering just prior to being elected ANC president.

This finding by the court is an overwhelming victory for the Rule of Law, and the NPA must now immediately continue with the 783 charges of corruption so that President Zuma can finally have his day in court.

Since the DA first took this matter to court in 2009, we have maintained that the decision taken by the then acting National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Mokotedi Mpshe, to drop these charges was irrational, unreasonable and made with an ulterior political motive. Today’s finding by a full bench of the North Gauteng High Court substantiated our contention.

In the absence of any legitimate factual or legal reasons, the DA is led to believe that these charges were dropped for political purposes: a political solution needed to be found to drop charges against a person who was about to become President, and the Spy Tapes provided the convenient excuse.

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.

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

Reporting with News24.

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Zuma must face corruption charges – High Court