Publication: Mail and Guardian Issued: Date: 2008-01-04 Reporter: Adriaan Basson

The State vs Zuma (Take Two)



Mail and Guardian




Adriaan Basson

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On August 4, if there is no mistrial, postponement or any other unforeseen delay, Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma will be charged with 16 crimes in the Pietermaritzburg High Court alongside Pierre Jean-Marie Robert Moynot of arms company Thint.

Moynot, however, will not be an accused himself, but will represent French arms company Thales's South African affiliates in court. Thint and Thint Holdings will face four charges each.

It has taken the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) 15 months to recharge Zuma and Thint after the case was struck from the role by Judge Herbert Msimang.

Msimang did not have kind words for the prosecutors. Their case "went from one disaster to another" and the "chickens [were] coming home to roost".

Msimang ordered the NPA to get its house in order before recharging the accused. On December 27, the Scorpions's investigations director, Aubrey Mngwengwe, signed off the new indictment before it was delivered to Zuma's Johannesburg residence.

In the 15 months gone by, the Scorpions have put together a much thicker document than before and have also restructured the entire composition of the charges.

These are the 16 charges Zuma will, in all likelihood, face.

Count one: racketeering

A relatively new offence in South Africa's jurisprudence, racketeering was introduced by the Prevention of Organised Crime Act of 1998 (Poca). Zuma will be charged under chapter two of Poca, which reads: "Whilst employed by or associated with any enterprise, conducts or participates in the conduct, directly or indirectly, of such enterprise's affairs through a pattern of racketeering activities."

The state argues that Zuma effectively became an employee of Schabir Shaik's Nkobi group. He was paid from the company's accounts and assisted it in earning revenue from state contracts.

Count two: corruption

This count is tagged the "general corruption" charge whereby Zuma is alleged to have had a corrupt relationship with Shaik. Through "corrupt and unlawful" benefits, Zuma received more than R4-million from Shaik between 1995 and 2005. This included payments to his wives, children and traditional village at Nkandla. Zuma is alleged to have returned the favours by actively assisting Shaik to win contracts or letting Shaik use his name in business transactions.

Count three: corruption

The "specific corruption" charge against Zuma. The state alleges that Zuma agreed to be bribed by Thint for protecting the company against an arms-deal investigation and for furthering the business of Thint and the Nkobi group. Zuma allegedly agreed to receive R500 000 per year that he needed to pay for his Nkandla development. Shaik testified that Zuma did not ask Thint for a bribe, but for a donation to his education trust. The trial court rejected this version.

Count four: money laundering

Zuma is accused of being party to concealing or disguising his bribe through a so-called service-provider agreement between Shaik and Thales. The agreement was rejected in the Shaik trial as a farce.

Count five: fraud

The state alleges that Zuma "unlawfully and with intent to defraud" failed to mention his benefits from Shaik in his annual declaration in Parliament's Registrar of Members' Interests. Between 1999 and 2005, when Zuma was an MP, he received 676 payments from Shaik of more than R3-million.

Count six: fraud

Zuma is accused of defrauding Cabinet by failing to declare his benefits from Shaik to the secretary of Cabinet. In terms of the Executive Members' Ethics Act, Zuma had to declare his benefits to Cabinet. This amount, according to the NPA, should have been R2,8-million.

Count seven: fraud

Democratic Alliance MP Raenette Taljaard in 2003 put the following question in writing to Zuma: "Whether he had any meetings on March 11 2000 and/or on any other specified dates with Mr Alain Thétard, former head of Thompson CSF's [now Thales] Southern Africa division and/or Mr Schabir Shaik in Durban or elsewhere ..."

Zuma replied: "I did not meet Alain Thétard on March 11 2000 in Durban or anywhere else in South Africa." In his trial, Shaik testified that the meeting (about a donation) was on March 10 2000. Zuma is now accused of defrauding Taljaard and/or Parliament by not revealing the meeting where the bribe was allegedly discussed.

Counts eight to 16: fraud

The state alleges that Zuma, for nine consecutive years [1996 to 2004: each year is a separate charge], failed to declare to the South African Revenue Service benefits received from Shaik and his companies.

With acknowledgements to Adriaan Basson and Mail and Guardian.