Zuma, NPA Agree on Date for Hearing
|Reporter||Hajra Omarjee, Karima Brown|
ANC boss seeks stay of prosecution
Lawyers for African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) have agreed on a date for Zuma's legal team to bring an application for a permanent stay of prosecution before the court.
This follows intense negotiations between the parties ahead of their appearance before Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Chris Nicholson today to thrash out future court dates.
Contrary to media reports, it is understood there has been "no serious discussion" over a trial date.
Today's appearance comes against a backdrop of the NPA saying it is "trial-ready" and Chief Justice Pius Langa warning that courts should discourage pretria l litigation that appears to have no purpose other than to delay the commencement of trials.
If successful, Zuma's application for a permanent stay of prosecution would be the final blow to the NPA's investigation.
It follows an application to have charges against him declared invalid.
Judgment in that matter has been reserved.
It is understood that Zuma's legal team and the NPA agreed yesterday that the application for a permanent stay of prosecution should be heard on November 26 and will today ask Nicholson to set it down for two days .
Zuma was served with an indictment in December last year and faces a charge of racketeering, four charges of corruption, a charge of money laundering and 12 charges of fraud.
Zuma believes he is being targeted by forces in his party and the government because of his political beliefs in a bid to prevent him from becoming the next president of SA.
While those close to Zuma's defence assert that the NPA did not act against him until he became ANC president 18 months after Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Herbert Msimang struck the charges against Zuma off the roll because the state was not ready to proceed legal analysts remain sceptical of what they term "Zuma's delaying tactics".
University of KwaZulu-Natal law professor Robin Palmer said: "There have been 33 pre-trial applications in this matter. Not all brought by Zuma, but the reality is that we just saw an application by Zuma to have the charges against him declared invalid, we are now seeing a stay of prosecution application, and there is also the Mauritius matter. The NPA say they are court-ready."
This month, Zuma lost a Constitutional Court application to have search warrants and seizure warrants against him declared invalid.
The Pietermaritzburg High Court will pass judgment on September 12 on Zuma's application to have the decision by acting NPA head Mokotedi Mpshe to charge him declared invalid and set aside.
Nicholson is considering Zuma's argument that prosecutors are not entitled to charge him again without hearing representations from him.
The NPA said in court that Zuma's application was ill-founded and devoid of any merit in law.
It is understood if Zuma loses that application, he intends to appeal.
Zuma's lawyers have also applied to the Mauritius Supreme Court to stop the NPA from obtaining the originals of 13 documents used to convict his former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, of fraud and corruption.
The documents include the diary of former French arms company official Alain Thetard.
With acknowledgements to Hajra Omarjee, Karima Brown and Business Day.