Publication: Business Day Issued: Date: 2003-09-04 Reporter: Chantelle Benjamin

Zuma Papers Must be Kept from Public



Business Day

Date 2003-09-04


Chantelle Benjamin

Web Link


Judge does not prevent publication

New information relating to the arms deal is contained in the affidavits of Deputy President Jacob Zuma, but National Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka is making every effort to prevent these documents from being released publicly within the next two weeks.

Zuma launched his fight-back campaign in the Pretoria High Court yesterday in an attempt to force the Scorpions to hand over the original version of an encrypted fax that is the cornerstone of the corruption case against Durban businessman Schabir Shaik.

Marumo Moerane , for the directorate, argued that Zuma's urgent application for access to an encrypted fax contained information which implicates a number of highly placed people and requested an order stopping the publication of these documents until the case begins.

It is understood that the applications may contain private discussions involving Justice Minister Penuell Maduna and Ngcuka, among others.

Zuma is expected to lock horns with Ngcuka in the Pretoria High Court on September 15, at which time Zuma's affidavits will be released. Moerane asked the court to keep the documents secret until then, arguing that Zuma's founding affidavit and Ngcuka's responding affidavit needed to be read together to give the public "the full picture".

Judge President Bernard Ngoepe questioned whether the documents did not contain information already carried in the media, making it unnecessary to consider the argument.

"Some of the allegations have not been mentioned before," replied Moerane. "Some contain serious allegations about parties linked to this court action and parties who are not linked."

Ngoepe opted not to make an order preventing publication of the documents, saying his understanding of the law was that affidavits were privileged before the hearing started and those who published them could be found guilty of contempt of court or defamation.

Efforts to prevent publication of the documents by Ngcuka presented an interesting twist to the case, which as Zuma's advocate Neil Tuchten pointed out, had been "played out in the media".

The fax in question was allegedly sent by Alain Thetard, local head of French arms company Thomson CSF, to Shaik and forms the basis of the Scorpions' case against Shaik.

The fax allegedly implies that Shaik had requested R500 000 for Zuma in exchange for support and protection in the arms deal investigation. Although Zuma has not been charged, he has launched the application requesting the original handwritten letter by Thetard on which the fax was allegedly based.

The directorate's legal team says there is no basis for Zuma's application.

With acknowledgements to Chantelle Benjamin and Business Day.