'Political meddling' defence's trump card

Former president Jacob Zuma wants cases dropped. / JACKIE Clausen
Former president Jacob Zuma wants cases dropped. / JACKIE Clausen

Former president Jacob Zuma's legal team has pulled out what it believes is its trump card: an exceptional and extraordinary circumstance created by the National Prosecuting Authority.

Acknowledging that the delay in bringing Zuma to court on 16 charges, including fraud, corruption and racketeering was not enough to secure a permanent stay of prosecution, his lawyer, advocate Muzi Sikhakhane, explained that an extraordinary circumstance, which has to be taken into account, did in fact exist.

He said it was exceptional and extraordinary for an organ of state "as powerful as the NPA" to discuss a prosecution with political players.

"It is spectacular," said Sikhakhane, wrapping up the day's proceedings by claiming that the NPA was guilty of prosecutorial misconduct in its action against Zuma.

He was referring to what was revealed in the so-called "spy tapes", which are recordings of phone conversations between then NDPP Bulelani Ngcuka and former Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy discussing the timing for prosecuting Zuma in order to boost the chances of Thabo Mbeki winning re-election.

"If you find that it's not unlawful... to do what we say Leonard McCarthy and Bulelani Ngcuka did, I must lose this case," said Sikhakhane. "If you find that the NPA, from today and going forward, can take instructions from the DA and the ANC in order to "time things" to suit political players - you are free to take that decision. I must lose this case, if this court does not find that violation extraordinary."

The defence believes that if the court grants Zuma a permanent stay of prosecution, it would prevent the NPA from abusing its power in similar cases in future.

Wim Trengrove, who is leading the state's case in opposing the application for a permanent stay of prosecution, admitted the NPA's wrongdoing at a public lecture.

*Proceedings continue today.

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