6 February 2013

South Africa: Spy Tapes - Delays, Disputes and Dissimulation

press release

The DA received communication from the Office of the State Attorney late yesterday to inform us that they were unable to meet the deadline for heads of argument in the application the party is bringing to compel the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to provide the reduced record of decision in the matter of the discontinuation of the prosecution of Jacob Zuma. This has further delayed the DA's quest to discover the truth about this case.

The DA filed our heads of argument on 21 January and we were supposed to receive the respondents' heads of argument by 5 February. Without the heads of argument, the case cannot proceed.

The case, which will be before the North Gauteng High Court, consists of two parts. The first is to compel the NPA to hand over documents and tapes that the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) found the DA was entitled to. The second is to declare that, in not handing over the information, the NPA is in contempt of the SCA.

The DA has been waiting for the reduced record since April 2012, when the NPA failed to hand over the documents within the 14 days stipulated by the SCA. It stated that the NPA was required to hand over "the reduced record of documents and materials relevant to the review, including documents before the first respondent when making the decision and any documents informing such decision".

What is currently in dispute is the documents and other material relating to the decision not to prosecute Jacob Zuma, including the so-called spy tapes. Mr Zuma's legal team has argued that the transcripts of the tapes are not covered in this reduced record and are privileged. Our heads of argument make it clear that the tapes were given to the NPA by the National Intelligence Agency and not by Mr Zuma's legal team, and that they cannot therefore be privileged.

If it is found that the NPA failed to comply with the court order by not handing over the tapes then the NPA should be found in contempt of court.

This entire process has been characterised by delays. It is quite clear that Mr Zuma's legal team knows that what is on those tapes could be damaging and do not want them to get out. If this is correct, it will prove our contention that the decision to drop the charges against Mr Zuma was irrational and unlawful.

James Selfe, Chairperson of the DA Federal Executive

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