Publication: Cape Times Issued: Date: 2007-09-24 Reporter: Sapa

Judgment Reserved in Zuma and Thint Appeal



Cape Times





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BLOEMFONTEIN: Judgment was reserved in the Supreme Court of Appeal here on Friday in the appeal hearing of Jacob Zuma and French arms company Thint against efforts to get documents from Mauritius.

The ANC deputy president and Thint appealed against an application by the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) to get original documents from Mauritius related to investigations against them.

NDPP counsel Billy Downer submitted that Zuma and Thint's efforts to stop prosecutors from getting the documents was a way to avoid the consequences of the prosecutors getting relevant evidence.

"The documents are clearly relevant to the investigations. "We need the documents," said Downer.

Downer argued that the letter of request the state sought did not affect any rights of those being investigated.

Downer said a situation cannot be allowed where alleged suspects in investigations must be informed of what the prosecutors were doing. "Suspects cannot dictate the terms and pace of the investigation."

The NDPP submitted the information contained in the documents was relevant to charges that had been, and were being, investigated against Zuma and Thint and may be brought against them.

The documents allegedly include the 2000 diary of Alain Thetard, the former chief executive of Thales International's South African subsidiary, Thint (Pty) Ltd, which reportedly details a meeting in March 2000 between him, Zuma and convicted former financial adviser to Zuma, Schabir Shaik.

The NPA alleges that an agreement on a R500 000-a-year bribe for Zuma was discussed at the meeting, linked to South Africa's multimillion rand arms deal.

Downer said a letter of request, such as the state applied for, was designed to help prosecutors and not for some dark purpose as contended by Zuma and Thint.

He submitted it did not give the state an undue advantage.

"It's a way that was given by law."

Counsel for Zuma, Kemp J Kemp, said the state's premature attempt to gather evidence violated his client's right to a fair trial.

Kemp submitted the Durban High Court had acted outside its jurisdiction when it issued a letter of request for the documents.

He argued that the letter of request for the documents was for evidence.

"Why not follow the normal route?" Kemp said arguing that the High Court had acted outside its jurisdiction.

"In essence, we submit that the court... did not have jurisdiction to issue the letter of request."

Kemp said evidence should only be gathered when a possible trial against his client had started.

"There is no trial. The respondent's case - that of the state - is that there may never be a trial."

With acknowledgements to Sapa and Cape Times.