Publication: Mail and Guardian Issued: Date: 2006-09-04 Reporter: Giordano Stolley Reporter:

Top Legal Minds in Court for Zuma Trial



Mail and Guardian




Giordano Stolley

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Three of the country's top legal minds will face off in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday in the corruption trial of former deputy president Jacob Zuma.

While Zuma believes his case should be thrown out of court, the state is arguing that he should stand trial -- if only to clear his name and prevent "clouds of suspicion" hanging over the man who could be elected president.

Zuma claims he is the victim of a political conspiracy and that the prosecution is politically motivated to "investigate every aspect of my affairs, permanently stain my reputation and remove me as a political role player".

It will be up to Judge Herbert Msimang to decide whether to grant a permanent stay of prosecution or postponement the matter to early next year.

Zuma, who is deputy president of the ANC, faces two charges of corruption.

Thint is accused of having offered him a bribe of R500 000 a year in exchange for his silence during a probe into the country's multibillion-rand arms deal.

The three top advocates in court will be: Kemp J Kemp for Zuma; Wim Trengove for the state; and Kessie Naidu for Zuma's co-accused.

Kemp represented Zuma at his trial on a rape charge, on which he was acquitted.

Kemp's tangled fringe has earned the nickname "unkempt Kemp", but reports describe him as someone who "slowly and meticulously picks his victims apart".

Trengove convinced the Durban High Court earlier this year to allow the state to confiscate R34-million in assets from Schabir Shaik -- Zuma's friend and former financial adviser.

Judge Hilary Squires found Shaik had a "generally corrupt relationship" with Zuma.

A senior reporter said of Trengove: "What he picks he usually wins."

In 2005 he persuaded the Constitutional Court that the state should be allowed to reopen the case against acquitted apartheid era germ warfare expert Dr Wouter Basson.

Zuma's co-accused Thint, the South African subsidiary of the French arms manufacturer Thales, is represented by Naidu. Primarily a defence advocate, Naidu led evidence in the Hefer commission into claims that former national director of public prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka was an apartheid spy.

He prosecuted the three men involved in the Throb nightclub disaster of 2000 which claimed the lives of 13 school children in Durban.

Pietermaritzburg is bracing itself for a flood of Zuma supporters, policemen and journalists for the hearing, with a night vigil is planned on Monday.

Several hotels and bed and breakfast establishments reports increased occupancy, with those closest to the court booked out.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a manager at the Victoria Inn: "It's going to be packed out in the city centre [hotels]. We are fully booked with policemen."

Senior Superintendent Phindile Radebe said security would be tight. "Everything is in place."

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With acknowledgements to Giordano Stolley and Mail & Guardian.