JOHANNESBURG – The Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein on Friday upheld the High Court's ruling that had reinstated corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma.
The President was appealing a High Court ruling in April 2016 that ordered a review of a decision by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to set aside hundreds of corruption charges against Zuma.
Former NPA head, Mokotedi Mpshe, had made the decision to set aside the charges, stemming from the multi-billion rand arms deal, in 200, shortly before Zuma began his first term as president.
The court dismissed the appeals against the decision by the High Court to reinstate nearly 800 fraud and corruption charges against the President with costs, "including the costs of three counsel and the costs related to the applications for leave to appeal."
It found that "The National Prosecuting Authority and Mr JG Zuma are to pay such costs jointly and severally".
In its introduction, the judgment noted that "The current applications are part of the continuing litigation saga that has endured over many years and involved numerous court cases.
"It is doubtful that a decision in this case will be the end of the continuing contestations concerning the prosecution of Mr Zuma.
Minutes into the argument before us, counsel for both Mr Zuma and the NPA conceded that the decision to discontinue the prosecution was flawed.
"Counsel on behalf of Mr Zuma, having made the concession, with the full realisation that the consequence would be that the prosecution of his client would revive, gave notice that Mr Zuma had every intention in the future to continue to use such processes as are available to him to resist prosecution."
In dismissing the original decision not to prosecute, based on the release of leaked phone calls, the court noted that "We are still of the view that the ultimate test should be whether the abuse in question would prevent the accused from having a fair trial, a question which was not even addressed."
President Zuma's legal counsel, in a surprise turn of events, admitted last month that the decision to withdraw the charges was irrational.
Criticising the NPA, the court noted "It beggars belief that the present regime at the NPA, on its own version of events, saw fit to defend Mr Mpshe’s decision as being rational...
"I can find no fault with the reasoning and conclusions of the (High Court) that the decision to discontinue the prosecution was irrational and liable to be set aside.
"A question one might rightly ask is why it took so long to come to the realisation at the eleventh hour that the case for both the NPA and President Zuma had no merit."
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