Publication: Beeld Issued: Date: 2003-09-15 Reporter: Erika Gibson

Zuma : French Letter Fake?




Date 2003-09-15


Erika Gibson

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Pretoria - Deputy president Jacob Zuma believes there is a possibility that the original French note, which referred to his alleged bribery, might not have been written by Alain Thetard, a senior official of Thompson.CSF.

The letter apparently forms the basis for the Scorpions' investigation into Zuma. The Scorpions have thus far refused to hand over the original letter to Zuma and his legal team.

Zuma employed his own French translator, Catherine du Toit from the University of Stellenbosch, to translate and comment on the Scorpions' typed copy of the document.

In her comments, she said there seemed to be several spelling, typing or punctuation errors in the Scorpions' French version, which could indicate that the writer used "casual" French.

It would therefore be advisable to compare this version with the original (to determine whose mistakes they really are).

Du Toit said the second-last paragraph in the letter, which deals with the aims of the alleged bribery by Thomson.CSF, the French company that was partly involved in supplying corvettes to the navy, could be interpreted differently.

These aims address, among other things, the "permanent support of JZ in future projects (of Thomson.CSF)".

She said she would not be able to comment on this issue until she has seen the original letter.

In his sworn affidavit, Zuma said he could find no reason why the Scorpions refused to hand over the handwritten note to him.

National Director of Public Prosecutions, Bulelani Ngcuka, said in his statement to the High Court that it wasn't in the public's interest that the letter be handed over at this stage.

He said it would have a negative effect on the investigation into Schabir Shaik, Zuma's financial advisor, who has been separately charged with corruption.

It would also disclose the identity of a reliable source that could lead to intimidation of witnesses in the Shaik trial.

With acknowledgements to Erika Gibson and the Beeld.