Publication: Sapa Issued: Pietermaritzburg Date: 2008-08-15 Reporter: Giordano Stolley

State, Zuma Agree on Dates




Issued Pietermaritzburg
Reporter Giordano Stolley


Legal teams for the state and African National Congress president Jacob Zuma will come to the Pietermaritzburg High Court on December 8 to argue over a date when he should stand trial.

That was unless Zuma agreed to the state's proposal for his criminal trial to be held in the second quarter of next year, or if Judge Chris Nicholson ruled in his favour in his recent application to have the decision to prosecute him declared unlawful.

Agreement over court dates, including the dates when documents needed to be submitted to court, was reached shortly before the two parties were due to appear in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday.

According to the draft settlement agreement -- the signed agreement that detailed dates when documents are to be submitted as well as dates when matters are to be argued in court -- Zuma's application to have a stay of prosecution would be heard on November 27 and 28.

Zuma would need to serve his papers for a stay of prosecution on the state by September 30.

Zuma's co-accused -- Thint Holding (Southern Africa) Pty Ltd and Thint (Pty) Ltd -- would have their application for a stay of prosecution heard on November 25 and 26.

Zuma faced a charge of racketeering, four charges of corruption, a charge of money laundering and 12 charges of fraud related to a multi-billion rand arms government arms deal.

Zuma was charged in 2005 but that case was struck from the role in 2006. He was re-charged in December 2007.

The two Thint companies are the South African subsidiaries of the French arms manufacturing giant Thales International (formerly Thomson-CSF).

They each faced a charge of racketeering and two counts of corruption.

The NPA has in the past indicated that it would like Zuma's trial to take place in the second quarter of 2009, between mid-April and the end of June.

According to the agreement reached on Friday, Zuma needed to tell the court by November 17 whether he agreed to his trial starting on the "first day of the court's second term in 2009".

If he did not agree, the court will hear argument on December 8 in the Pietermaritzburg High Court.

The dates for the court's second term still had to be set. KwaZulu-Natal Judge President Vuka Tshabalala was likely to announce the court calendar in either September or October.

Earlier this month Judge Chris Nicholson heard Zuma's application to have the decision to charge him declared unlawful.

Nicholson's ruling on the application was expected to be made on September 12.

Should Nicholson rule in Zuma's favour on September 12, then the agreement reached on Friday would become invalidated.

Unlike previous occasions, there were no Zuma supporters outside the court building. Zuma was not present on Friday, although a large contingent of journalists was.

With acknowledgements to Giordano Stolley and Sapa.