Zuma, Thint Ask for Indictment
Urgent: defence demands full documentation
Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma and giant French arms manufacturer and supplier Thint want a complete indictment - and they want it now.
This was what Zuma's legal representatives, Kemp J Kemp SC and Michael Hulley, and Thint's legal team, Kessie Naidu, SC and Ajay Sooklal, told Judge Phillip Levinsohn in a special application in the Durban high court yesterday.
Not only did they want an indictment, they also wanted further particulars and full documentation, so that they can properly prepare to face fraud and corruption charges in the Pietersmaritzburg high court on July 31.
What is more, they wanted Levinsohn, who looks set to be the next deputy judge president of KwaZulu-Natal, to order the state to deliver these within 10 days so that, if the state does not or cannot do so, Zuma and Thint can start asking the court to quash the charges against them.
There was a small problem, however, according to senior state prosecutor, Billy Downer SC: the state was not ready to provide a full indictment.
Naidu told the court that, since the state decided to charge Zuma in June last year, and had in any case initially charged Thint alongside Shaik long before that time, it "must [at that time] have had sufficient reason and information at its disposal to justify the decision" to charge the two.
Why then could the state not come up with something better than the so-called provisional indictment, which was in any case mostly a "mirror image" of the charge sheet against Shaik?
At this point, Judge Levinsohn mused: "Well, perhaps the state should not have charged Zuma and Thint then, perhaps it was premature. But there are many political pressures at play in this matter, we know that."
Naidu argued that, since the bedrock, as Judge Levinsohn called it, of the state case was an alleged conspiracy or agreement between the parties to commit corruption, something which the state must have known about for it to lay charges, what further information was it waiting for?
Naidu said the state was hampering his client's preparation of its defence and flouting his client's constitutional rights to a speedy trial.
Kemp told the court that an accused was entitled to an indictment in order to know what the charges and case against him are and that "the prosecution cannot have its cake and eat it.
"It cannot charge the accused [Zuma] after three years of investigation, take a year from there to get to a trial date which was agreed upon, and then claim that it still seeks more evidence before it is willing to go to trial".
Downer said the investigations into Zuma and Thint had proved to be extremely complex, and that the collation of the documents was taking a long time.
Downer said that, given that the Scorpions were on appeal on these matters, and that Schabir Shaik's appeal was also soon due at the supreme court of appeal, he did not see anyway how the trial would be able to proceed on July 31.
Zuma and Thint indicated they wanted the trial to proceed on July 31 and that they want an indictment.
Judge Levinsohn will hand down judgment on Tuesday.
With acknowledgement to Jeremy Gordin and the Saturday Weekend Argus.