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leave zuma alone now - ndebele

By unknown | Apr 06, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

KwaZulu-Natal premier S'bu Ndebele has challenged opposition parties to "stop applying double standards" when it comes to ANC president Jacob Zuma's court matters.

He said there was a "chorus" of opposition towards Zuma's negotiations with the National Prosecuting Authority, whereas others who did the same were not questioned.

Speaking publicly for the first time about the Zuma case, Ndebele said that while the NPA has spent millions of rand pursuing charges against Zuma, it had let former IFP strongman Philip Powell "off the hook".

Powell, who now lives in the UK, was found with an arms cache, enough to start a small-scale war. However, he entered into a plea bargain with the NPA under the leadership of its former boss Bulelani Ngcuka in 1999. All the seven tonnes of weapons were destroyed.

Ndebele alleged that KwaZulu-Natal was awash with weapons such as AK47s and R5s that continue to be used by criminals.

He said opposition parties should stop their hypocrisy and call for Powell and others involved in the killings of people in the province to be prosecuted.

"We have victims of violence in KwaZulu-Natal who have lost their parents, children and relatives because of arms that were supplied by Powell.

"But parties such as the DA and IFP are quiet about Powell's actions and only focusing on the Zuma case, yet there are no victims in this case. There were no weapons found in the possession of Zuma, not even an okapi," he said.

Ndebele said the "cacophonic voices" over the Zuma matter do not serve any purpose because the matter is now before the judiciary.

"It's a normal process for a defence team to make presentations to the NPA in private and for the NPA to decide whether to go to court or drop the matter. But in the case of Zuma, it has been made public. Ngcuka met with Powell privately and then stopped the prosecution," he said.

Many people are still wondering why Powell was not prosecuted after being found in possession of weapons. Powell pointed out a bunker in Nqutu in northern KwaZulu-Natal where seven tonnes of arms and explosives were hidden.

He was later given indemnity from prosecution.

Another small arms cache was found in a forest at KwaHlongwa on the south coast.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, that was established to examine apartheid era abuses, found that Powell, as a former security branch officer, had been involved in "conspiracy to commit gross violations of human rights".

According to the TRC, Powell trained and secretly armed an IFP paramilitary unit involved in destabilising South Africa's first democratic elections in 1994.

Powell confirmed he was the same man but denied being part of any death squads or having ever incited any of his trainees to kill.

"The DA is quiet about people who killed others in our province. Some guns of Powell's were found but there are still many guns that are scattered in the province," said Ndebele.


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