Legal experts praise spy tapes judgment

Legal experts have hailed the spy tapes judgement, saying it has cast SA’s judiciary in a good light.

President Jacob Zuma during the singing of the national anthem, he will be delivering a keynote address at the Giyani Stadium to mark Freedom Day. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

PRETORIA - Legal experts and political leaders have praised the spy tapes judgement, with some saying it has cast South Africa's judiciary in a good light and others again calling for President Jacob Zuma to resign.

Former Congress of South African Trade Unions leader Zwelinzima Vavi says Zuma must now do the honorable thing and step down and face his charges in court.

Yesterday, deputy judge president Aubrey Ledwaba found that former National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss Mokotedi Mpshe's decision to discontinue the prosecution against Zuma was irrational.

The High Court found that Mpshe breached a cardinal legal rule.

Ledwaba handed down his ruling in the Democratic Alliance's application to have Mpshe's 2009 decision to withdraw the charges to be set aside.

Mpshe reached his decision after considering representations from Zuma, which included secret recordings of former scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy.

The so-called spy tapes showed that McCarthy and former NPA boss Bulelane Ngcuka had made political considerations, while deciding on when to serve the indictment on Zuma.

Ledwaba said Mpshe ignored the concerns he had personally raised prior to making the decision to discontinue the prosecution.

"The information from the tapes and the representation from Mr. Zuma's lawyers had to be investigated, verified and tapes authenticated."

He said Mpshe failed to properly investigate the allegations made in the spy tapes and didn't allow McCarthy to respond to them.

"He had thus breached the cardinal rule of audi alteram partem that is hearing the other side before making an intervention."

Vavi said the ruling was not unexpected.

"Our judiciary has come to the party time in and time out to say that South Africa is not a banana republic and that no one is above the law. This is a great day for South Africa."

At the same time United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said the judgement has once again proved that the country's judiciary is independent and no one is above the law, even the president.

Holomisa said the judgement shows that Zuma is not fit to continuing leading South Africa.

"It's a challenge to Mr. Zuma himself and the ANC as to whether they're going to allow president Zuma to go to court instead of running the country or that he must step down."

Meanwhile, legal experts have hailed the spy tapes judgement, saying it has cast South Africa's judiciary in a good light.

Retired high court judge, Chris Greenland, said the NPA is now obliged to uphold its previous decision to prosecute the president.

"So what it means is that in terms of the Constitutional law the NPA is obliged to proceed in terms of its decision that was in place at that time to prosecute."

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As the NPA mulls the way forward after spy tapes ruling that the decision to withdraw corruption charges against Zuma was irrational and must be set aside, McCarthy now also faces investigation over his involvement in the timing of the move.

The High Court in Pretoria said McCarthy's alleged interference could constitute a serious breach of law.

Judge Ledwaba views McCarthy's conduct in a very serious light.

He said it may even be criminal.

"The alleged conduct of Mr McCarthy as it appears in the transcripts of the recorded conversations, if proven, constitutes a serious breach of law and prosecutorial policy."

The NPA said it's studying the judgment.

Meanwhile, the African National Congress (ANC) has refused to answer the question whether or not it's proud to have President Zuma as its leader after the ruling.

ANC spokesperson and national executive committee member Zizi Kodwa was asked if the party was proud to have Zuma as its leader.

"President Zuma remains president of African National Congress."

At the same time, Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said they're confident of victory if Zuma and the NPA appeal today's ruling.

"I think the Supreme Court of Appeal will support our view and I think the Constitutional Court will support our view."

The Presidency said Zuma is looking at which remedies may be available to him.