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Thursday, 11 September 2008

SA waits for Zuma ruling

from News24

Durban - The best legal minds have been heard on whether the Scorpions decision to prosecute African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma was legal, but on Friday it will be their turn to listen as Judge Chris Nicholson hands down his decision.

In fact, the whole nation will be listening and waiting for the news out of Pietermaritzburg High Court A.

Irrespective of the decision, police will be on high alert while the media conveys to the public Nicholson's decision on Zuma, the man next in-line for the country's presidency.

In August, State advocate Wim Trengove SC, told the court the decision by National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) acting head Mokotedi Mpshe to re-charge Zuma in 2007 should be viewed independently of the move to charge him in 2005.

Who will be right?

"The current decision [by Mpshe] was a decision that was taken on a clean slate," Trengove told the court in the State's opposition of Zuma's bid to have the decision to prosecute him declared unlawful.

Zuma faces 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.

He was charged in 2005 but that case was struck from the role in 2006.

He was re-charged in December 2007.

His legal team contends the charges should be dropped because the State did not offer Zuma the opportunity to make representation when it decided to charge him again.

The Zuma camp argues that the constitution guarantees the right to make representations when the NPA reverses a decision.

But Trengove told the court that Zuma should not even argue about the decision to charge him in 2005, because that case was scrapped from the court role by Judge Herbert Msimang in 2006.

Who will be right and who will be wrong? Thousands, if not millions will be waiting with bated breath.

Should Nicholson agree with the argument that was presented by Kemp J Kemp, the question will arise whether charges can again be instituted against Zuma, especially since the country's ANC-led government intends disbanding the Scorpions.

Nothing preventing charges from being re-instituted

Professor Managay Reddi, a criminal law expert from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said that should Nicholson rule in Zuma's favour, there was nothing preventing charges from being re-instituted against Zuma.

However, this would have to be with the prior representation that Zuma's legal team have demanded.

Yunis Shaik, the brother of Zuma's former financial adviser Schabir Shaik, who was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment on two counts of corruption and one count of fraud, told Sapa he would be watching the unfolding of events in Pietermaritzburg.

"We would be delighted (with a decision in Zuma's favour), but I can't anticipate which way Nicholson would rule," he said.

Friday's decision would "have no bearing" on his brother's case.

Shaik was found guilty in 2005 of attempting to solicit a R500 000 bribe for Zuma from French arms manufacturer Thales International (formerly Thompson-CSF).

If Nicholson rules in favour of the State, Zuma's legal team have already said it will seek a permanent stay of prosecution.

Zuma's attorney, Michael Hulley, could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Among those waiting for the decision will be the legion of Zuma supporters from the ANC and its alliance partners the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party.

They are expected to converge on Freedom Square (formerly Market Square) on Friday.

Several thousand supporters are expected to attended a vigil in the square on Thursday night.

The alliance's top leadership are expected to be in court in support of Zuma.

Hotels through out the city are reportedly booked out.

A television crew had to book accommodation in a town 35 kilometres from the KwaZulu-Natal capital.

Several of the city's streets have been closed off and police spokesperson Superintendent Henry Budhram said there would be enough police on the ground to deal with any situation.

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