Judge Hits Out at Zuma Prosecutors
The judge clutched his head despairingly, then pounded his desk and lashed out at the State lawyers seeking to prosecute Jacob Zuma on corruption and fraud charges.
"How can one make use of these documents in the face of a court order?" Judge Herbert Msimang demanded angrily.
His anger erupted when it emerged the State had defied court orders and used documents seized from Zuma and his law-yers on illegal warrants to prepare a forensic report on his financial affairs.
The judge slammed the State's decision to hand the documents to forensic au-ditors KPMG as "double contempt of court", be-cause the warrants used for the raids had been de-clared unlawful by the high courts in Durban and Johannesburg.
The tongue-lashing was the low point of what has been a bad week for the prosecution.
Having spent much of Monday attacking the State's case, Judge Msimang castigated prosecutors for using illegal documents to build its new case.
Emboldened by the judge's strong words, defence teams urged him to strike the case off the roll while the State "puts its house in order".
The defence launched a series of attacks in opposing the State's application for a postponement. They included accusations that:
The prosecution had acted in contempt of court orders.
The indictment was a "sham".
A mistrial could re-sult if the case proceeded to trial in the present circumstances.
The KwaZulu-Natal and Johannesburg high courts instructed the State to return everything they had confiscated from Zu-ma and his attorneys, as well as any copies made.
In one case, the State has appealed against the judgment, but until that is finalised, the warrants re-main unlawful and the documents inadmissible.
But the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Billy Downer, SC,who successfully prosecuted Zuma's former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, told the court the State had elected to use the documents in its forensic audit.
"So you decided to use the documents in defiance of a court order?" Judge Msimang asked Downer, whose ears became redder.
Downer said that as time had worn on and the State became concerned about Zuma's right to a fair and speedy trial, the National Prosecuting Au-thority had elected to give KPMG the documents and instruct them to begin the forensic audit.
At the time the State had believed a "settlement agreement" about the documents could be reached.
"But notwithstanding that you didn't have any settlement agreement, you went ahead, which you should not have done," said Judge Msimang.
The KPMG report, the State said, would form the basis of its "replacement" indictment against Zuma, which is scheduled to be presented on October 15.
The State has also ad-mitted that it may seek to amend the new indictment, depending on how the Supreme Court of Appeals rules on Shaik's appeal against his conviction and sentence on fraud and corruption
Zuma's defence has in-dicated it will oppose any amendments to the provisional corruption charges he faces.
With acknowledgement to Karyn Maughan and Cape Argus.