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Report: Zuma asked lawyer not to testify at arms deal inquiry

It has emerged President Zuma allegedly tried to silence a close confidant by asking him not to testify at the Seriti Commission of Inquiry.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma in Parliament. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - It has emerged President Jacob Zuma allegedly tried to silence a close confidant, who had “intimate knowledge” about how the president benefited from the arms deal, by asking him not to testify at the Seriti Commission of Inquiry.

The Sunday Times is reporting that explosive details of how Zuma allegedly tried to cover up his relationship with French company Thales as well as how the company gave him hundreds of thousands of rands in cash, and treated him to five-star hotel stays and designer clothes.

The paper says the details are contained in new papers filed in the high court in Pretoria.

The papers filed in the high court apparently say President Zuma allegedly demanded to be moved to a more expensive hotel when Thales invited him to Paris in 2007 for the Rugby World Cup semifinal and how after his luggage was lost it paid for a shopping spree in the French capital.

The Sunday Times says Pretoria lawyer Ajay Sooklal filed his affidavit in support of a high court application by Corruption Watch and the Right2Know Campaign.

The two organisations are challenging the findings of the Seriti Commission of Inquiry into the arms deal.

The commission found no evidence of corruption in the deal.

In the affidavit, Sooklal claims Zuma invited him to his official residence in Pretoria in August 2012, and asked him not to spill the beans to the commission, which began public hearings a year later.

He says the president asked him not to tell the commission that the French company had been paying him money over the years up to 2009.

The presidency has not been available for comment.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)