It was very dramatic to read that former president Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane is being charged with corruption – the story even made international headlines today.
But I suspect the state knows only too well it will struggle to make the corruption case stick against the Gupta family’s most famous business associate. Duduzane is primarily being charged for being present when Ajay Gupta allegedly offered the then deputy finance minister, Mcebisi Jonas, R600 million – with R600 000 in a bag to take home right there – in return for selling his soul.
Setting aside the insanity of that amount – even if it’s completely true – it’s unlikely there will ever be firm enough evidence to prosecute Duduzane or even the main man himself, Ajay, on this supposed failed attempt to capture the heart of the state. The offer was allegedly made at the Saxonwold Shebeen, and was not recorded, as far as we know. I doubt anyone was taking minutes.
The state will presumably have to rely on one of the other people in the room, which includes businessman Fana Hlongwane, turning state witness. Even then, that might not be enough to convince a judge.
As we’ve seen with how the preservation order of Gupta money was overturned in the Estina case in the Free State, it isn’t easy to penetrate the Gupta-Zuma battle tank.
Fortunately I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t have to puzzle over these things too much. But from where I’m sitting, it seems far more likely that the state has no intention of really prosecuting Duduzane – or anyone, for that matter – on the Jonas matter, because they know it’s just a “he says, he says, and he says” case, which carries little legal weight.
The National Prosecuting Authority appears, rather, to be playing a longer game, and the real focus may simply today have been on ensuring Duduzane can be prosecuted on his culpable homicide case – or even the bigger fish of seeing him be a witness in the state capture probe as a whole.
To do any of that successfully, it would be best to keep him in the country.
I doubt that Duduzane would have opted to live the rest of his life as a fugitive and, in effect, exile himself from South Africa to avoid prosecution. Now we’ll never know, because that option is off the table. He will not be able to do an Omar al-Bashir from Waterkloof Air Force Base.
Perhaps the state realised this was their best opportunity to nab Zuma Jr before he can hurry back to Dubai after attending the funeral of his younger brother. And they decided not to take any chances. They could probably just as easily have gotten his passport by arresting him for the culpable homicide case though.
Perhaps most importantly, today was the clearest indicator yet that President Cyril Ramaphosa is either a) not interfering at all in the work of the justice system, unlike his predecessor or b) is definitely interfering – just like his predecessor – and this is precisely what he wants.
There’s no way of knowing, and it could easily be option A, which would of course be a welcome relief. After all we’ve been through, how nice it would be not to have to worry that our state apparatus is being used to settle personal scores.
Let’s not even contemplate what option ‘Baba ka Duduzane” may be thinking it is though.