Publication: Business Day Issued: Date: 2008-08-01 Reporter: Ernest Mabuza Reporter:

State Wins Another Round Against Zuma



Business Day

Date 2008-08-01
Reporter Ernest Mabuza
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The state won another round in its pretrial litigation battles against African National Congress president Jacob Zuma yesterday when the Constitutional Court dismissed Zuma's applications to have search warrants used in raids on him and his lawyer declared invalid.

The court also dismissed his plea for the National Prosecuting Authority's (NPA's) request to Mauritian authorities for evidence to be declared invalid.

The stage is now set for next week's battle in the Pieter- maritzburg High Court, where Zuma will challenge the state's decision to prosecute him.

The NPA welcomed the Constitutional Court ruling, and said that it was ready for trial.

The search warrants issued by Transvaal Judge President Bernard Ngoepe three years ago yielded 93000 documents the state can now use in its prosecution of Zuma.

In a majority judgment penned by Chief Justice Pius Langa, the court said the judges who heard the matter had not been influenced by approaches from Cape Judge President John Hlophe in deciding the case.

"We are satisfied that the alleged acts that form the basis of the complaint by judges of this court have had no effect or influence on the consideration by the court of the issues in these cases and in the judgments given.

"The issues relating to the complaint have accordingly been kept strictly separate from the adjudication process in these cases," Langa said.

Langa declared a "catch-all" paragraph in the warrant served on Hulley to be unlawful.

The warrant served on Hulley contained two paragraphs.

One allowed the searchers to take any records Hulley received from Zuma's former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, concerning Zuma's affairs.

The "catch-all" paragraph referred to any records in Hulley's premises that might have a bearing on the state's investigation.

As Hulley was Zuma's lawyer, invading his premises under the "catch-all" phrase would be a breach of privilege.

But Langa found that the state had established a need for a search and seizure operation instead of less invasive procedures, such as obtaining the evidence by summoning the suspect.

He said it would be na´ve to assume the suspects would necessarily have yielded the required information freely, or that they would do nothing to cover their tracks between the date of receiving a subpoena and the date on which it was to be complied with.

In a dissenting judgment, Judge Sandile Ngcobo said the state had breached the duty of utmost good faith, by failing to disclose to Ngoepe that Zuma had co-operated in their investigations before a request for a search and seizure warrant.

With acknowledgements to Franny Rabkin and Business Day.