The long anticipated trial of African National Congress president Jacob
Zuma on charges ranging from corruption to racketeering will get under
way next week in KwaZulu Natal. VOA's Delia Robertson reports from our
bureau in Johannesburg the trial will open with an application by Zuma
for a permanent stay of prosecution.
Three years after Jacob
Zuma was formally charged with two charges of corruption flowing out of
the conviction of his legal advisor on similar charges, his trial will
get under way. However, he will now face 16 charges ranging from
corruption to racketeering to money laundering.
The case flows
from the conviction in 2005 of Zuma's former financial advisor of
corruption and fraud. Shabir Shaik, the financial advisor, was
convicted of soliciting an annual bribe of $67,000 for Zuma, from a
French arms company as protection against graft charges in South
Africa's military refurbishment program. He was also convicted of
paying Zuma $200,000 to advance Shaik's business interests.
the time he was originally charged Zuma said he hoped for a speedy
trial. However, in the intervening period he has launched dozens of
court bids to halt the case or to prevent prosecutors from using
evidence they have gathered. So far, five judges have ruled in his
favor; but 31 judges decided against him.
The latest such ruling
came Thursday from the Constitutional Court, the final arbiter in cases
involving constitutional matters and citizens' rights under the
constitution. Zuma had asked the court to rule that the seizure of
some 93,000 documents by the National Prosecuting Authority from him
and his legal advisors was unconstitutional because investigators had
violated his rights in the search and seizure operations and that the
warrants were inappropriately approved by a senior judge.
In a 9-1 decision read by Chief Justice Pius Langa, the court dismissed Zuma's application.
terms of the warrants were neither over-broad nor unduly vague and were
therefore intelligible as the law required," he said. "This court held
that it was not an unjustifiable infringement of Mr. Zuma's dignity."
Chief Justice upheld the right of appeal in such matters, but warned
that all courts should discourage litigation prior to criminal trials
that appears to have no purpose other than to delay the commencement of
When the trial opens Monday, Zuma's lawyers will
file an application for a permanent stay of prosecution, arguing once
again that his rights have been violated. If that application
succeeds, Zuma will leave court knowing that it will be unlikely that
he will ever face in court, the charges against him. If his
application fails, the trial will commence and Zuma will get his chance
to answer those charges.