Zuma Affidavit Implicates 'Highly Placed People'
Pretoria - "Some highly placed people" have been implicated in an affidavit by Deputy President Jacob Zuma in connection with the controversial arms deal, according to the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions (NDPP).
The allegations are contained in an urgent application in which Zuma is asking the NDPP to hand over an encrypted letter, written in French, allegedly implicating him in corruption.
The NDPP yesterday tried to keep his statements in the application out of the public spotlight - urging Transvaal Judge President Bernard Ngoepe to issue an order prohibiting publication until Zuma's application has been heard on September 15.
The matter was postponed yesterday to allow the NDPP to answer Zuma's allegations and for the deputy president to then respond.
Although the parties were not prepared to give the media a copy of the notice of motion (what the order they are asking for entails), it is believed that Zuma wants a copy of the original encrypted fax, which allegedly places him at a meeting in March 2000 with his financial adviser Schabir Shaik, along with a member of the company Thomson-Thales, which benefited from the multi-billion rand arms deal.
Zuma is alleged to have solicited a bribe from this company. He has previously questioned the existence of the fax.
The NDPP indicated it would oppose the application, stating there was no basis for Zuma's demand.
While the NDPP pressed the judge for an order prohibiting publication of the contents of Zuma's affidavit in support of his application, counsel for Zuma was keen to have the story told.
Neil Tuchton, SC, said: "The other side of the story has not been made public. The very basis of this application is that the drama has been played out in the public arena ..."
Referring to the charge sheet against Zuma's financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, he said: "Not so long ago in the Durban Magistrate's Court, a detailed charge sheet was made available to the media ... the other side of the story has not been made public.
"They (the NDPP) not only want to stop us from getting the document (letter), but they also want to stop our story on why we want the document."
Arguing on behalf of the NDPP, advocate MTK Moerane, SC, said the application should not be made public "to protect the reputation of certain people". He said that at this stage there was only one version before court - that of Zuma.
Moerane said highly defamatory statements were made in Zuma's affidavit about "some highly placed people".
Moerane argued that until all the parties had filed their answers and the matter was ripe for hearing, the statements should not be made public.
He said if each document was published individually (as they were filed at different times) it would not give the full picture.
But Judge Ngoepe said he saw no need for such an order. "I cannot see any reason why I should protect possible offenders against their own folly."
However, Ngoepe said it should not be understood that he had said he was allowing publication.
The law was clear that statements which had not yet been before court were privileged. If anyone published the pleadings and they defamed a person in the process, they were open to be sued by the aggrieved person or even face a charge of contempt of court.
With acknowledgements to Zelda Venter and the Cape Times.