Pretoria - The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has announced its decision not to pursue its prosecution of Jacob Zuma, who was facing allegations of corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering.
The NPA on Monday announced that there was evidence of abuse of power by former head of the Directorate of Special Operations Leonard McCarthy and well as Bulelani Ngcuka who is the former National Director of Public Prosecutions.
It is believed that the two had discussed the case and timing of the prosecution of Mr Zuma, who was at the time in the running to become President of the African National Congress, even while Mr Ngcuka was no longer in the employ of the NPA.
"If Mr McCarthy's conduct offends one's send of justice, it would be unfair as well as unjust to continue the prosecution. I have come to the difficult conclusion that it is neither possible nor desirable for the NPA to continue with the prosecution of Mr Zuma," said Acting NPA National Director of Public Prosecutions Mokotedi Mpshe.
Advocate Mpshe, briefing the media in Pretoria, described the evidence of interference in the prosecution process as "gravely wrong" and a "gross neglect of the elementary principles of fairness".
"Using one's sense of justice and propriety as a yardstick by which McCarthy's abuse of the process is measured, an intolerable abuse has occurred which compels a discontinuation of the prosecution," said Advocate Mpshe.
He explained that the NPA had received representations from Mr Zuma's legal representatives in the matter of the Sate versus Zuma, including written and oral representations and certain recordings.
The representations pertained to the substantive merits, the unfair trial defences, the practical implications and considerations of the continued prosecution and the policy aspects militating against prosecution.
"I need to state upfront that we could not find anything with regard to the first three grounds that militate against a continuation of the prosecution. I will deal with the policy aspects militating against the prosecution.
"The defence made certain very serious allegations about alleged manipulation of the NPA and indicated that these were substantiated by recordings of certain telephone conversations which it intended handing into court during the intended application for a permanent stay of prosecution," said Advocate Mpshe.
The National Intelligence Agency confirmed that the tapes were legally obtained and indicated it was able to share them legally with the NPA. The NPA is thus confident that its decision is based on information that was intercepted legally and obtained legally by the NPA, he said.
Advocate Mpshe read out certain excerpts of the recordings of the telephone calls during the briefing. He said it was a matter of huge public interest to make the contents of some of the recordings known.
"Mr McCarthy used the legal process for a purpose outside and extraneous to the prosecution itself. Even if the prosecution itself as conducted by the prosecution team is not tainted, the fact that Mr McCarthy, who was head of the Directorate of Special Operations, and was in charge of the matter at all times and managed it almost on a daily basis, manipulated the legal process for the purposes outside and extraneous to the prosecution itself.
"It is not so much the prosecution itself that is tainted, but the legal process itself."
He further explained that Mr McCarthy used the legal process for a purpose other than which the process was designed to serve, or for collateral and illicit purposes.
Advocate Mpshe said the NPA had decided to prepare a full report which would be presented to the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Enver Surty and President, Kgalema Motlanthe to decide on further action.
The NPA had tried to assess what impact its decision would have on other aspects of its work that happened in the past.
"The NPA believes that it is vital that a full and proper investigation must be conducted by a judge or independent person to make recommendations about any further actions to be taken, whether of disciplinary or criminal nature, as well as the framework within which the NPA operates to ensure that such abuses never occur again," said Advocate Mpshe.
Advocate Mpshe said that the "painful facts" had serious implications for the integrity and independence of the NPA and that because the NPA was a guardian of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, its conduct had to be beyond reproach at all times.
Mr Zuma will have to appear in court where the NPA will formally withdraw its case and it will be struck off the roll.