South Africa Prosecutors Are Denied Leave to Appeal Zuma Ruling

  • High Court found decision to drop Zuma graft case ‘irrational’
  • Prosecutors can appeal directly to Supreme Court to hear case

South Africa’s High Court denied the National Prosecuting Authority permission to appeal a finding that it erred when it decided to drop a corruption case against President Jacob Zuma seven years ago.

Prosecutors spent eight years probing allegations that Zuma took 4.07 million rand ($270,000) in bribes from arms dealers and brought 783 charges of fraud, corruption and racketeering against him. They dropped the case a month before Zuma became president, saying taped phone calls indicated the chief investigator had tried to frustrate his efforts to win control of the ruling African National Congress. The main opposition Democratic Alliance challenged that decision in court.

On April 29, the High Court ruled the decision to drop the case was irrational, a finding that opened the way for the charges to be reinstated. The NPA sought leave to appeal, saying it needed the Supreme Court of Appeals to provide clarity on its powers. The prosecuting authority can now apply directly to the Supreme Court to review the case.

Zuma, 74, was elected ANC leader in December 2007, became president of South Africa in May 2009 and won a second and final term in 2014. On March 31, South Africa’s Constitutional Court found that he had “failed to uphold, defend and respect the constitution” for refusing to abide by a directive by the graft ombudsman to repay state money spent on upgrading his private rural residence.