JOHANNESBURG – President Jacob Zuma has been given an extended period to make a representation regarding why charges against him relating to the Spy Tapes should not be reinstated.
National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shaun Abrahams has given Zuma’s legal team until January 31, 2018, following a request to his office.
Abrahams said the team requested a postponement until February 2018 as they had not been able to consult with their client due to other cases they are involved with. Despite granting the postponement, Abrahams said he could only give them until end of January in the new year.
“After due consideration of all the relevant factors, I deemed it in the interest of the administration of justice and fairness that I accede to Mr Zuma’s request for an extension, but curtailed the period within which his representations should reach my office by no later than 31 January 2018,” Abrahams said in his response.
He said he took a lot of things into consideration before agreeing, including Zuma’s busy schedule. Abrahams said in their request, Zuma’s legal team indicated that they were unavailable until mid-December due to prior litigation commitments; The case is complex and voluminous; There have been developments in the case since Zuma first made representations 8 years ago; and his team needs time to review these developments as they make representations; and Zuma would be unavailable for consultation until after December 20.
Abrahams, however, indicated that there would be no further request for an extension for the submission of his representations. Zuma was initially given until November 30 to make representation following the ruling by the Supreme Court of Appeal. He said he would communicate his decision in due course.
“Once Mr Zuma’s representations have been received, I will communicate the process and timeline within which I intend to advise my decision in terms of section 179 (2) of the Constitution. I deem it prudent to bring the matter to finality soonest and remain committed thereto,” said Abrahams.
The Democratic Alliance has expressed disappointment at the extension. The party’s Federal Council Chairperson James Selfe said the party was disappointed but not surprised. He said they viewed this as a delaying tactic.
The party also questioned if Abrahams still had the power to make such decision following the High Court ruling that set aside his appointment and directed Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to appoint a new NDPP.
“In the first place, one wonders whether Shaun Abrahams is in a position to grant Mr Zuma an extension until 31 January 2018 to submit representations as to why he should not be charged, given the decision last week by the High Court in Pretoria that Abrahams must vacate his position as National Director of Public Prosecutions. Assuming he is in a position to do so, these charges are the very same ones put to Mr Zuma in 2007. This case is not complex and the only thing that has changed is the effluxion of time, which is very much a matter of Zuma’s own making,” said Selfe.
He accused Abrahams of refusing to treat Zuma like any other accused. Selfe said in the normal course of justice, the accused would be charged before a court of law and only then given the opportunity to make representations.
“However, Mr Zuma continues to receive special treatment and is yet to be charged like any other citizen. Finally, as we have pointed out exhaustively in our submissions to numerous courts throughout the eight and a half years we have fought to bring Mr Zuma to justice, it is not for the prosecutors, however diligent, to decide if Mr Zuma has a case to answer. This decision must be made by a trial court, and the trial court must decide whether any evidence is inadmissible. The long history of delaying tactics and obfuscation continue, but the DA remains committed to ensuring Mr Zuma has his day in court,” said Selfe.