The legal team for Thales South Africa, indicted alongside former President Jacob Zuma for fraud and corruption related to the decades old multimillion-rand arms deal, will seek to have a permanent stay of prosecution.
The French arms company also believes attempts by the National Director of Public Prosecutions head, Advocate Shaun Abrahams, to add further charges, has been confusing as a charge Abrahams wants to include in the indictment does not exist.
Anton Katz SC, appeared in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday morning on behalf of Thales, while Zuma was also appearing.
Zuma is accused number one and is facing one count of racketeering, two counts of corruption, one count of money laundering and 12 counts of fraud for allegedly receiving bribe money from Thales via his former financial adviser, Shabir Shaik.
Thales is accused number two and is facing one count of racketeering, two counts of corruption and one count of money laundering. The company’s representative, Christine Guerrier, was not in court on Friday as she was excused from appearing last month.
“Our representations are that our client cannot receive a fair trial,” Katz told Justice Mjabuliseni Madondo. Katz added that the relief Thales would seek from the state would be a civil matter.
He said there was confusion over the indictment against Thales and it needed to be corrected. “My client is being charged on a charge that may or may not exist," he said.
Katz was referring to a letter sent by Abrahams on 25 July to lawyer Robert Driman from Werksmans Attorney, representing Thales. In the letter, Abrahams dismissed Thales' written representations to have the prosecution halted.
Abrahams said in that letter: “I have requested the prosecuting team to provide me with their views on the prospects of proffering charges against your client in terms of section 5(b) of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.”
Acting for the State, Billy Downer SC, admitted to the court that no such section existed. He said it was either referring to section 5.1 (b) or 5.2 (b).
Katz further told the court he wanted the indictment finalised as he had read “in the media” that a 17-page affidavit had been filed regarding Thales' involvement in the case. He asked Justice Madondo to “please put the state on terms” and that Downer finalise the indictment and provide any outstanding affidavits.
“Once we have that, we will launch an application for a permanent stay,” said Katz.
Justice Madondo said the State was ordered to present Katz with a final indictment within 14 days “and to clarify the additional charge in dispute”.
Madondo postponed the case to 30 November to allow Zuma’s legal team to make an application for a permanent stay of prosecution.