President Jacob Zuma was dealt another massive blow when a full bench of the High Court in Pretoria today set aside the National Prosecuting Authority’s 2009 decision not to proceed with Zuma’s prosecution on 783 criminal charges.
The full bench, led by Judge Aubrey Ledwaba found that acting National Director of Public Prosecutions Mokotedi Mpshe had acted “impulsively and irrationally” when he decided to discontinue with Zuma’s prosecution.
Mpshe announced that the charges had been dropped shortly after listening to recorded conversations between the former head of the Directorate Special Operations Leonard McCarthy and former NDPP Bulelani Ngcuka about whether to serve the indictment on Zuma before or after the ANC’s Polokwane conference.
Zuma beat Thabo Mbeki when he was elected as leader of the ANC and was sworn in as President shortly after the corruption charges were dropped against him.
The President maintained McCarthy had manipulated the prosecutorial process in order to favour Mbeki in the presidential race.
The court found that McCarthy’s conduct, if proven, should be seen in a very serious light, but ruled that his conduct had no rational connection to Mpshe’s decision.
The court also severely criticised Mpshe for not consulting with the prosecutorial team before he made his decision and ignoring their view that a court should ultimately make the decision if the prosecution should continue or not.
Judge Ledwaba said it was clear that McCarthy’s manipulation of the timing of when the indictment should be served on Zuma also had no effect on the actual charges.
He said it was clear that Mpshe had been of the view that the prosecution should continue until shortly before he made his sudden and inexplicable about-turn when he decided to drop the charges.
The court found that Mpshe’s haste in making the decision was irrational. They said it was inexplicable why Mpshe could not have waited for Zuma’s application for a permanent stay of his prosecution to be concluded.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane yesterday said he was delighted with the outcome of the court case.
He said the DA was determined to follow all avenues to ensure that Zuma finally had his day in court an answered to the criminal charges against him.