A criminal law expert explained the difference between the charges former president Jacob Zuma is facing as announced by NPA head Shaun Abrahams last Friday.
Zuma is facing 16 charges of corruption, money laundering and racketeering for 783 payments he received from Schabir Shaik.
Speaking on Radio 702, Professor James Grant said the charges Zuma is facing are for his conduct before he became president of the country, meaning these charges have nothing to do with his conduct during his presidency and are not linked to state capture.
Grant said state capture charges were expected to be far more serious, which could result in a charge of treason against Zuma.
He said intention is required in all of these offences for the accused to be convicted, except for racketeering.
“There’s a possibility of you committing racketeering negligently,” he said.
The professor said the prosecution would have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the former president had the intention to commit the offences he is charged for.
“Corruption is the improper receipt or acceptance or some sort of benefit, and in that respect, it is an improper in … in combination with some sort of improper out, a promise to influence something, a promise to award for instance a tender where it’s not due,” Grant said.
He said racketeering is when an individual engages in two or more offences over a period of time and that the range of these offences is extensive and wide.
“They could also be a combination of, say, fraud and corruption. So really you are looking at crimes which are aimed at syndicates where they get together and over time engage perpetually in one or other type of crime, and the suggestion here is that there was a syndicate set up between Shaik and Zuma,” Grant said, explaining what racketeering is.
He added the most severe penalty for racketeering the country’s legislation makes provision for is a maximum of 30 years’ imprisonment.
“Fraud is when one intentionally misrepresents something which has the effect of causing someone else to act to their prejudice,” he said.
As an example, he said misleading parliament or state Treasury or Sars constitutes a misrepresentation.
“Money laundering – the idea is to catch somebody who is trying to hide the source of funding, and the concern there is is that if there is going to be somebody stealing money or somebody defrauding another person, if you are going to be using the money, the law enforcement agencies would need to be able to identify whether the money is legitimately obtained or not,” Grant said.
He said money laundering weakened the state’s ability to enforce the law.
Since Abrahams’s announcement that Zuma will have his day in court, the former president’s legal team has indicated it might challenge the NPA’s decision.
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