DURBAN – French arms’ company Thales on Tuesday said it was adamant it would not receive a fair trial in the fraud and corruption case it was facing with former president Jacob Zuma.
The matter was being heard at the Pietermaritzburg High Court, where Thales was seeking a permanent stay of prosecution.
One of Thales’ submissions had been that an unreasonable amount of time had passed during which the State had the opportunity to reinstate the charges against Thales, but had not.
Acting for Thales, advocate Mushahida Adhikari tried to convince judges Jerome Mnguni, Esther Steyn and Thoba Poyo-Dlwati that Thales was not responsible for the numerous delays in the protracted case.
Thales and Zuma have been charged in relation to the billion rand “arms deal” of 1999.
The case was dropped in 2009 but was reinstated in 2018 following numerous legal challenges, predominantly led by the official opposition, the Democratic Alliance.
On Monday, Zuma’s defence team put forward its reasons for a permanent stay for its client.
Adhikari took over from Thales’ lead advocate, Anton Katz, after the lunch break on Tuesday, but much to the consternation of the judges seemed to submit the same reasons as Katz as to why a permanent stay was necessary.
As had Katz earlier, Adhikari argued that former Thales’ employees that allegedly paid bribes to Zuma via his former financial advisor, Schabir Shaik were “not available”.
Three of them were out of the country, could not be traced, and one was suffering from Alzheimer’s.
The case, which saw Shaik convicted and sentenced in 2005, has been in and out of the courts for 15 years.
Zuma, accused one, is facing one count of racketeering, two counts of corruption, one count of money laundering and 12 counts of fraud.
Thales, accused two, is facing one count of racketeering, two counts of corruption and one count of money laundering.
Proceedings will continue on Thursday, with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) set to give its reasons for why the stays of prosecution should be denied.
African News Agency (ANA)