On 29 April the Pretoria High Court handed down a judgment setting aside the 2009 decision to drop corruption charges against Jacob Zuma. Arguments were heard at the beginning of March. The DA had brought the case against three respondents, namely Mokotedi Mpshe, then acting national director of public prosecutions at the national Prosecuting Authority (NPA); Leonard McCarthy, head of the Directorate of Special Operations (Scorpions), which was disbanded in 2009; and Zuma, who was not president at the time the charges were withdrawn.
Mpshe’s decision to withdraw the charges was based on an alleged political plot by McCarthy and others. The indictment for the 783 charges was due to be served on Zuma in late December 2007, at the same time that ANC’s national conference would decide leadership of the party, between Zuma and Thabo Mbeki. Mpshe felt that service should be delayed until after the conference, so as not to give the impression that the NPA was trying to interfere with the vote.
The indictment was duly served on 28 December 2007, but Zuma applied for a review, which was granted in September 2008. Mpshe challenged this ruling in the Supreme Court, which overturned it in January 2009.
The NPA was thus about to go ahead with its case against Zuma. However, on 31 March 2009 Mpshe listened for the first time to the so-called spy tapes, and was so disturbed by what he said he heard – evidence of the McCarthy plot – that he withdrew the charges against Zuma. Mpshe’s action triggered the DA’s case, launched a week later.
The 2016 judgment, setting aside Mpshe’s decision, was handed down in the collective name of the court, and was not attached to any of the three judges.