South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal upheld a High Court ruling on Friday to reinstate hundreds of corruption charges filed against Jacob Zuma before he became President.
Prosecutors set aside the charges in April 2009, paving the way for Zuma — who has faced and denied numerous corruption allegations made since then — to run for president later that year. However, the Pretoria High Court ruled in 2016 that Zuma should face the almost 800 corruption charges, following which the veteran politician and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) appealed against the verdict in the Supreme Court.
Rejecting their appeal, Judge Lorimer Leach said it was “irrational” for the NPA to set the charges aside. “It is difficult to understand why the present regime at the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority) considered that the decision to terminate the prosecution could be defended,” Leach said.
The NPA now has to decide whether to reinstate the charges, which relate to a 30 billion rand ($2 billion) government arms deal brokered in the late 1990s. Zuma has an option of approaching the Constitutional Court to try to set aside the Supreme Court’s ruling.
The NPA would need to consider the judgment, spokesman Luvuyo Mfaku said, adding it would “at all times do the right thing within the confines of the rule of law and in the interest of proper administration of justice.” The rand extended gains against the dollar after the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Another corruption charge that has dogged Zuma after he took office involves the Gupta family, business friends of the president. Reports surfaced that they had used their influence to secure lucrative state contracts for their companies. However, Zuma and the Guptas have denied any wrongdoing.