Tue | May 22, 2018

Court orders release of taped phone conversations

Published:Friday | August 29, 2014 | 12:00 AM


South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeals yesterday ordered the release of taped phone conversations about corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma, a move that could resurrect a case that has dogged the leader since before he took office.

Zuma had applied to prevent the tapes from being released while the opposition Democratic Alliance party sought access to them.

Conversations on the recordings were cited as a reason to drop fraud and corruption charges against Zuma before he became president in 2009. The prosecuting authority at that time said the conversations showed there was a political conspiracy against Zuma, but the actual recordings were never made public.

Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille applauded the decision by the court yesterday, and said her party will analyse the tapes and determine if there were legal reasons to withdraw the charges against Zuma.

"We are all equal before the law," she said in front of the court. "None of us is above the law. The court systems are being hijacked by politicians like Zuma and his network. If anybody is suspected of a crime and if there is a case to be made, that person must have his day in court, whether that person is a president or a pauper," said Zille.

The National Prosecuting Authority has five days to release the recordings and internal notes on discussions about why the charges were dropped. Zuma, who at the time was deputy president, was accused of accepting bribes to thwart an investigation into wrongdoing by a French arms company involved in a massive weapons deal in the late 1990s.