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COSATU Criticizes SAF Appeals Court

In South Africa, a powerful labor organization is criticizing one of the country’s highest courts. COSATU, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, is calling for the resignation of the five judges on the High Court of Appeals.

The call relates to the court’s recent rejection of an appeal by Schbir Shaik, the former financial adviser to former South African deputy president Jacob Zuma. Shaik was convicted of corruption and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Zuma currently awaits trial on similar charges.

COSATU alleges the court misrepresented statements by the Shaik trial judge in rejecting the appeal. It says the court damaged Zuma’s reputation prior to his trial by alleging a corrupt link with Shaik. COSATU is a major supporter of Zuma, who is a potential presidential candidate.

VOA reporter Delia Robertson is following the story. From Johannesburg, she spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the case.

“The trial judge, Hilary Squires, says that he never used the phrase ‘generally corrupt’ in connection with the relationship between Schabir Shaik and Jacob Zuma, who is the deputy president of the (ruling) African National Congress (Party)…. COSATU is saying that therefore the finding by the High Court of Appeals on the relationship between Schabir Shaik…and Mr. Zuma is therefore incorrect and that they should all resign,” she says.

COSATU says the appeals court judges based their decision not on the trial transcript, but on editorials on the trial.

However, Robertson says, “That is not exactly what the High Court of Appeals said if you read the judgment, and I think COSATU is a little bit confused in their own reading of the judgment of the court of appeals…if you read the judgment of the court of appeals it’s very plain that they did read that (Squires) judgment and the court record, which was extensive. And they explain in great detail why they have arrived at the conclusions that they have.”