The firestorm around the Jacob Zuma trial intensified yesterday when the former
Deputy President appeared in Durban Magistrates Court to be provisionally
charged with two counts of corruption.
Although a militant crowd sang and chanted anti-Mbeki slogans outside the appearance itself was uneventful and Zuma was not asked to plead. He was released on R1 000 bail and did not have to surrender his passport.
However the Citizen has confirmed that the trial will not proceed in the Durban Magistrates Court in October when the case resumes. Instead the Scorpions will move the trial to the Durban High Court – where they will be seeking a sentence much harsher than the Magistrates Courts can mete out.
Scorpions spokesman Makhosini Nkosi told the Citizen there had been a news blackout imposed on the case. “Anything we want to say about the matter will be said in court. I cannot answer questions on this matter.”
However a senior member of the unit confirmed the case would be moved. “The maximum sentence the Magistrates Courts can impose is the absolute minimum sentence that a conviction on a charge of corruption involving an amount over R500 000 brings. The case will have to be moved.”
And, while Nkosi refused to list the witnesses the state intends calling the Citizen can confirm that former judge Willem Heath appears on the provisional list of witnesses the state intends calling to prove Zuma’s guilt.
Magistrate TS Ngcube ruled Zuma may not contact, either directly or indirectly, witnesses in the case – and that would include Heath. However Zuma has already retained Heath to act as his advisor. This has infuriated Cape Town businessman Richard Young – who believes he lost out on an arms deal contract through the corrupt relationship enjoyed by Durban businessman Schabir Shaik and Zuma.
Yesterday Heath told the Citizen that he was not aware that Zuma had been barred from making contact with potential witnesses, such as himself. “However Mr Zuma consulted with me before these bail conditions were laid down. Therefore they cannot be a problem.” Heath also said that, while he had held some meetings with Young he did not see these as being a problem.
“I may have had a few very short meetings with Dr Young, but I did not discuss the merits of his case.”
Young expressed fury at the news and yesterday said: “Willem Heath must reconsider. If he does not reconsider I will have to review my options.”
He said he had consulted with his legal team over Heath – who he claims was privy to many of his confidential legal documents, something Heath denies.
However Advocate Jannie Lubbe SC, who was Heath’s Senior Law Advisor when the former judge was head of the Special Investigating Unit, told a different story.
Lubbe, who is now in private practice told the Citizen that he and other members of Heaths unit held a number of meetings with Young where the merits of his case were discussed. He said that at these meetings Young handed over documentation and evidence to the unit that formed part of his claims that he was prejudiced by corruption.
“I can confirm these meetings. And it does not matter if Willem Heath was present or not. He was head of the unit and had access to this information.”
Heath said he had already told Zuma that he may have to appear as a witness for the prosecution if he is called.
With acknowledgement to Paul Kirk and The Citizen.
This is a close approximation of the printed version of the article.