Publication: Cape Times Issued: Date: 2006-11-07 Reporter: Wendy Jasson da Costa Reporter: Sapa Reporter:

Spotlight Back On Zuma



Cape Times




Wendy Jasson da Costa, Sapa

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Shaik loses appeal, told to report to prison

The Supreme Court of Appeal's unanimous dismissal of Durban businessman Schabir Shaik's appeal against his fraud and corruption convictions yesterday has placed the spotlight firmly on former deputy president Jacob Zuma.

Opposition parties were also unanimous in expecting the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to reopen its case against Zuma, which was struck off the roll in the Durban High Court two months ago.

But, the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the ANC Youth League warned against premature conclusions.

Institute for Democracy in SA (Idasa) executive director Paul Graham, said the Appeal Court decision had given the Scorpions "more than enough motivation" to reinstate corruption charges against Zuma.

"The Supreme Court of Appeal has confirmed Schabir Shaik made payment to Zuma in order to influence him ... also confirmed that Shaik sought a bribe from arms manufacture Thomson CSF on behalf of Mr Zuma.

"The judgment has made it possible for the Scorpions to now reopen their corruption case against Zuma," Graham said.

Shaik did not attend court in Bloemfontein yesterday and was in Cape Town, where his senior counsel is based.

On hearing the news, he reportedly said: "I can't believe it. Boom, boom, boom, one, two, three, they didn't uphold anything.

"All the lawyers were wrong about what was going to happen."

Supreme Court of Appeal President Craig Howie, in a summary of the judgment, said no grounds were found to change Shaik's convictions and sentences, which meant an effective prison sentence of 15 years.

He now has between 48 and 72 hours to report to correctional services.

Shaik failed to attend a scheduled news conference broadcast live later yesterday, sending his brothers Mo and Yunis instead.

Mo said the brothers did not expect the judgment to go the way it had, because Schabir still maintained that his relationship with Zuma was "founded on altruism".

"Schabir does not believe that he has done anything wrong in his relationship with Jacob Zuma."

He said Zuma had been in debt and Schabir had acted out of "compassion".

Asked about the possibility of an appeal to the Constitutional Court, Yunis said the brothers were still studying the judgment and were not yet able to draw any conclusion as to whether there were grounds to appeal to the Constitutional Court.

In her reaction, the Democratic Alliance's Sheila Camerer said the ruling "surely" had serious implications for Zuma's political future.

"It is hard to see how the NPA can fail to pursue their case against him now," she said.

Koos van der Merwe of the Inkatha Freedom Party agreed that the development raised serious challenges for Zuma.

"It will now be interesting to see which path the NPA decides to take from here," Van der Merwe said.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said that the ruling had put the Scorpions and the NPA on higher moral ground to formulate charges against Zuma. The time had arrived for both the Scorpions and Zuma to show cause why Zuma should not get his day in court.

Frik van Heerden of the Freedom Front Plus said his party had confidence in the legal system to take a possible Zuma court case further, but an automatic conviction was by no means a foregone conclusion.

There was no public statement from Zuma. An aide said he was "in Europe" and would "consider" whether or not to release a statement on his return to SA later this week.

However, Zuma's website contained the following message on its homepage: "Shaik's appeal ... was dismissed by the Supreme Court of Appeal on Monday morning. This is likely to precipitate media speculation about the implications for Msholozi (Zuma). We need to continue our unwavering support for our hero and leader, Jacob Zuma."

While political parties had largely welcomed the unanimous decision by five judges of the Appeal Court to uphold Shaik's sentence, the ANC Youth League, Young Communist League and Cosatu were quick to point out that Zuma himself had not been found guilty of anything.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Makhosini Nkosi said the Director of Public Prosecutions, Advocate Vusi Pikoli, would consider the court's ruling and consult with the prosecution team before deciding whether or not charges should be pressed against Zuma.

In her reaction, ID leader Patricia de Lille said she had been vindicated. She was referring to a document she received when she was a PAC MP, which alleged corruption in the arms deal. "The De Lille Dossier has brought down the second powerful crook in the arms deal saga. This judgment proves that our judiciary is independent and that we are all equal before the law," De Lille said.

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The results, and some of your comments, will be published in tomorrow's paper.

With ackowledgements to Wendy Jasson da Costa, Sapa  and Cape Times.