Publication: The Star Issued: Date: 2003-09-16 Reporter: Zelda Venter

Zuma Loses Case, Ordered to Pay Costs



The Star

Date 2003-09-16


Zelda Venter

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Deputy President Jacob Zuma has received a setback in his efforts to clear his name. His court bid to obtain a fax allegedly implicating him in bribery has been dismissed.

Zuma brought an urgent application last week to force National Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka to hand over a copy of a handwritten, encrypted fax in French from Alain Thetard of the French company Thales.

It allegedly confirms Zuma's demand for a bribe of R500 000 a year in return for his protection of the firm in any arms deal investigation.

A typed, decrypted version of the fax was contained in the charge sheet filed against Zuma's personal financial adviser, Schabir Shaik.

Yesterday Judge Jerry Shongwe found in the Pretoria High Court that Zuma's application was not urgent. He said Zuma had long been aware of the fax's existence and had not sought relief.

He struck the matter off the roll and ordered Zuma to pay the legal costs of Ngcuka, the National Prosecuting Authority and the Scorpions investigative unit.

Zuma had demanded access to the handwritten version of the fax in order to "clear his name".

Ngcuka responded by saying there was a reasonable prospect that the undue disclosure of the fax would result in the miscarriage of justice in the prosecution of Shaik.

"I believe the disclosure ... could prejudice the further investigation of allegations of corruption in relation to the arms deal ... and result in the physical harm to witnesses," Ngcuka said.

Gerda Ferreira, who had earlier headed the team investigating possible irregularities in the arms deal, stated in court papers that she had been the target of an intimidation campaign and had had to receive added protection.

Arguing on behalf of Zuma, Neil Tuckten yesterday said Ngcuka had made a "corrupt" offer to Zuma. He had asked a senior advocate to convey to Zuma that the investigation against him (Zuma) "could be made to go away against all concerned", subject to "certain requirements".

These entailed that Zuma should answer a set of innocuous questions compiled by Ngcuka. He was told that these questions would remain confidential. Another requirement was that Shaik had to plead guilty to certain "minor" charges.

Tuckten said Zuma had rejected the offer.

But Leonard McCarthy, investigating director of the Scorpions, said this and other claims by Zuma against Ngcuka were "scandalous and vexatious".

Among these accusations was that Ngcuka had been an apartheid spy, a claim supported by former transport minister Mac Maharaj.

Yesterday the ANC's national executive committee (NEC) distanced itself from reports by the SABC that the ANC would probe the spy allegations against Ngcuka.

The government, said the NEC statement, was able to deal decisively with accusations and counter-accusations being widely reported in the media.

With acknowledgements to Zelda Venter and The Star.