A high court judge has thrown out corruption charges against former south African vice president Jacob Zuma. The judge says the state was not ready to continue with the case when it asked for a delay. He also says that Zuma had suffered enough prejudice from the publicity associated with the trial. Delivering judgment Msimang said that Zuma must be treated the same as any other person, irrespective of his position in the country.
Judge Herbert Msimang struck the case off Wednesday, citing among his reasons that the prosecution's case depended on the outcome of appeals against controversial search and seizure raids when documents were seized from Zuma and his lawyers. Msimang said Zuma had suffered social prejudice, which "closely resembles punishment that should only be handed to a convicted person.
The prosecution team blames the defense for delaying tactics and maintains it has a strong and winnable case and has not ruled out going back to court.
Michael Hulley is Zuma’s attorney, from Durban in South Africa he spoke with VOA English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey about their reaction after the judgment.
“ Well let me say, one of relief but also one, which one constantly judiciary is reaffirmed because, I think it recognizes that every one is equal before the court”.
He continues,” we understand that, this is the end of it. I think the judge had encapsulated us both at the end of the proceedings. And he said well, that is that, we are now finished and that is how we understand to be,” he noted.
Reacting to contention by prosecutors that the defense was playing delay tactics Hulley said,” I think that allegation was refuted in the judgment by judge Msimang found. The only cause of the delay were the states themselves. So I think the judge has in fact ruled on that and found that there is no delay that could have been attributed to Mr. Zuma or his legal team,” he said.
Hulley said Zuma maintains his innocence and is glad to be free. “ Mr. Zuma undoubtedly, is relieved, he is pleased by the outcome and I think may be that is all one can say at this stage,” he said.
Meanwhile Zuma’s party the African national congress (ANC) says it welcomes the judgment. Smut Ngonyama is the spokesman for the ANC. He spoke with VOA English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey about the judgment
“ Well, the ANC accepts the decision of the high court of the Pietermaritzburg and has pronounced by the judge Herbert Msimang> we believe that as the ANC, that as we have said before, the law must be allowed to take its course. And even now, the law has taken its course and therefore we accept the judgment,” he said.
Ngonyama sharply disagree with some belief that Zuma should not vie for any political office because of his legal troubles.
“ Well, we don’t believe that we can begin to entertain such statements because a process of electing leaders is a process, which is undertaken through the constitution of the ANC.The constitution of the ANC says that, any member in good standing should continue to serve the people of South Africa. In this case, we believe that its only when the open process of nomination that would be getting into that. As of now, he has got a right like any other person. And he has got also to be the right to be elected or nominated for any position within the ANC,”
He talks about the future of Zuma in the African national congress (ANC).
“Well we see him as a member of the ANC. Very active, leader that was respected and participating within the structures of the ANC. And we’ll continue to tap on his experience as an experienced leader of the ANC. He will continue to act as his responsibilities as given to him by the ANC,” he said.
Zuma was accused of accepting a 500,000 rand (about 68,500 U.S. dollars) a year bribe from two Thint companies, subsidiaries of the French arms manufacturer Thales International. This emanated from the fraud and corruption trial of his former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik.
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