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Two Major Prosecutions May Loom in South Africa in 2008

The New Year could bring two prominent court cases in South Africa. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is expected to announce in early January whether it will bring charges against former deputy president and ANC leader Jacob Zuma and Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi.

Reporter Delia Robertson is following developments. From Johannesburg, she spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about what the National Prosecuting Authority is considering.

“I think they will wait until the end of the holiday period, which is around the 7th or 8th of January, when most of the senior politicians are due to be back from their vacations, as is the current acting head of the NPA, Advocate (Mokotedi) Mpshe,” she says.

Zuma may face charges stemming from the corruption conviction of his former financial advisor, Schabir Sheik, about two years ago. Authorities said that evidence from that case pointed to possible corruption charges against Zuma as well.

As for Police Commissioner Selebi, Robertson says, “That is less clear. The exact case against him hasn’t been revealed to the public. But it has to due with his relationship with a gentleman called Glen Agliotti, who is convicted of drug smuggling and other charges. And the suggestion that has been in the media in the past is that there may have been protection of people involved in serious crimes by the national police commissioner.”

Robertson says a prosecution of Jacob Zuma would give political opposition parties plenty of ammunition because Zuma is expected to run for the South African presidency in 2009. A prosecution of Selebi would also help opposition parties, who accuse the police commissioner of downplaying the country’s crime rate