NDPP gets tongue-lashing from SCA

Bloemfontein - The office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions received an unprecedented tongue-lashing in the "spy tapes" order handed down by the Supreme Court of Appeal on Thursday.

The SCA said it recently, in another matter, criticised the office of the NDPP for being "less than candid and forthcoming".

"In the present case, the then [acting] NDPP, Ms [Nomcobo] Jiba, provided an ‘opposing’ affidavit in generalised, hearsay and almost meaningless terms. Affidavits from people who had first-hand knowledge of the relevant facts were conspicuously absent," the SCA said in its ruling on Thursday.

"Furthermore, it is to be decried that an important constitutional institution such as the office of the NDPP is loath to take an independent view about confidentiality, or otherwise, of documents and other materials within its possession, particularly in the face of an order of this court.

"Its lack of interest in being of assistance to either the high court or this court is baffling."

The SCA ends its ruling by saying: "This conduct is not worthy of the office of the NDPP. Such conduct undermines the esteem in which the office of the NDPP ought to be held by the citizenry of this country."

The NPA, in reaction to the judgment, said on Thursday afternoon it would diligently and swiftly implement the order of the Supreme Court of Appeal in regard to the so-called spy tapes.

Spokesman Nathi Mncube said the NPA stated throughout the applications that it would abide by the order of the court.

"NPA is a constitutional institution that upholds the rule of law, and understands the serious consequences of failing to comply with the court order," he said.

The SCA held on Thursday that within five days, the NPA had to comply with a previous order, in an application brought by the Democratic Alliance, to release the spy tapes. This includes the actual recordings, internal memoranda, reports and minutes of meetings dealing with the contents of the recordings.

Conversations on the recordings were cited as a reason to drop fraud and corruption charges against Zuma, shortly before he was sworn in as president in 2009.

The tapes allegedly reveal collusion between the former heads of the Directorate of Special Operations, the now defunct Scorpions, Leonard McCarthy, and the NPA's former head Bulelani Ngcuka, to manipulate the prosecutorial process before the ANC's Polokwane conference in 2007.

Zuma was elected ANC president at the conference.

At the time, acting NPA boss Mokotedi Mpshe said it was shown there was a political conspiracy against Zuma and so the case could not continue.

Thursday's judgment ordered that the NPA deliver the documents to retired KwaZulu-Natal high court judge Noel Hurt within five days.

Hurt will now go through the documents and transcripts to mark the documents containing Zuma's confidential written or oral representations to the NPA and leave that out of the bundle to the DA.

The SCA held Hurt's ruling would be final and binding on the parties.