Today’s appearance of Duduzane Zuma in the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crimes Court is of great significance for the fight against corruption in the country, according to Corruption Watch executive director David Lewis.
After months of evading accountability for his alleged involvement in state capture involving his father and the notorious Gupta family, the long arm of the law has finally caught up with former president Jacob Zuma’s son.
The young Zuma was nabbed by officials and questioned upon his arrival at OR Tambo International Airport from Dubai on Thursday.
He returned to South Africa to attend his brother Vusi’s funeral.
His appearance today makes him the most high-profile suspect yet to be formally charged for state capture-related crimes.
“It is of great significance because, in Duduzane Zuma, you are not just dealing with a former president’s son but [with] someone who was powerful in the Zuma-Gupta affairs, [and] alleged to have played a key role in family business interests,” said Lewis.
“This development should also be demonstrating that the South African police authorities are now reacting to issues without fear or favour,” added Lewis.
Although Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi could not comment on the matter, only saying a press statement would be issued this morning, Zuma’s lawyer, Rudi Krause, confirmed that his client would appear in the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Court.
“But I do not know the charges yet,” said Krause.
According to Sunday newspaper reports, Zuma will be charged with corruption arising from the role he played in a failed attempt to bribe then deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas at the Gupta family’s Saxonwold home in October 2015.
It is alleged that, at the meeting Duduzane, businessperson Fana Hlongwane and Ajay Gupta offered Jonas the job of finance minister and a bribe of R600 million.
With father Jacob in and out of the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban, facing charges that include corruption, the court appearance of Duduzane is a double blow for the family.
The beleaguered former president faces racketeering, corruption, money laundering and fraud charges relating to 783 payments he allegedly received in connection with the controversial arms deal.
Possible corruption charges aren’t Duduzane’s only concern, as he is also expected to appear in court on Thursday on a charge of culpable homicide.
Duduzane had been given until the end of March to explain why he should not be prosecuted for the death of Phumzile Dube, who died after Duduzane’s Porsche collided with the taxi in which she was travelling in February 2014.
After initially declining to prosecute him in August 2015, the National Prosecuting Authority changed tack when lobby group AfriForum gave them an ultimatum to either prosecute Duduzane or release a nolle prosequi certificate, which would allow their private prosecutions unit under Gerrie Nel to prosecute him.
During an inquest into Dube’s death, a court found that there was prima facie evidence that her death had been caused by Zuma’s negligence.