South Africa 25.3.2018 09:58 am

Arms deal lawyer to lay bare Zuma ‘corrupt’ payments that ‘began state capture’

Outgoing president of the ANC Jacob Zuma takes the stage to address delegates at the ANC National Elective Conference at Nasrec, Johannesburg on 16 December 2017. Picture: Yeshiel Panchia

Outgoing president of the ANC Jacob Zuma takes the stage to address delegates at the ANC National Elective Conference at Nasrec, Johannesburg on 16 December 2017. Picture: Yeshiel Panchia

The lawyer says he agreed when Zuma asked him to not testify in the Seriti commission, but would now like to see the commission reopen to give his testimony.

An attorney believes he is the only person who can give “direct and truthful evidence” about the relationship between former president Jacob Zuma and French arms company Thint.

Ajay Sooklal, a former adviser for Thint beginning 2003, said he had witnessed Zuma asking a top official at the company to make a payment for a court application in the Mauritian Supreme Court, the Sunday Times reports.

This was around the time the Scorpions were trying to obtain documents that would have been crucial in the corruption case against Zuma, then the deputy president, and Zuma was appealing to the Mauritian court to stop the now-defunct agency from accessing the documents.

Sooklal believed the payments were unlawful and were “the beginning of state capture”, the Sunday paper reports.

He said the Hawks wanted to take his testimony of the payments made between 1996 and August 2005.

One of the documents Zuma tried to hide was an “encrypted fax” documenting the bribery agreement between him and Thint, in which Zuma was promised a yearly payment of half a million rand in exchange for “protecting” the French company from arms deal investigations.

The lawyer said Thint continued to support Zuma even when the company faced corruption charges with Zuma, as they felt secure in his prospects of becoming president of South Africa.

Sooklal denied being a middleman in these transaction and thus complicit in corruption.

He said he had agreed when Zuma asked him in 2012 to not testify against him in the Seriti commission looking into the arms deal, but would now like to see the commission reopen to give his testimony.

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