Thales and SA president presumptive back in dock

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Subsidiaries of French arms giant Thales and the man most likely to be South Africa’s next president will next Wednesday hear when they are due to appear in court to face criminal charges that include corruption.
Thales and SA president presumptive back in dock
Subsidiaries of French arms giant Thales and the man most likely to be South Africa`s next president will next Wednesday hear when they are due to appear in court to face criminal charges that include corruption.
  
Thales International (Thint) Holdings (Southern Africa) Pty Ltd and Thint (Pty) Ltd will each face one charge of racketeering, two of corruption and one of money-laundering.
African National Congress president Jacob Zuma will have to answer to one charge of racketeering, another of money laundering, two of corruption and 12 of fraud.
The charges broadly relate to SA`s controversy-fraught R47 billion strategic defence package that saw the country acquire 50 fighter aircraft, 30 helicopters, four frigates and three submarines as part of a post-apartheid military rejuvenation programme.  
The Sunday Times newspaper reported yesterday that KwaZulu-Natal Judge President Vuka Tshabalala had confirmed to it that Thint managing director Pierre Moynot and Zuma will shortly be told when their trial will start.
ANC spokesman Carl Niehaus told the paper – that has lately also attracted controversy for faulty reporting – that the party had “noted that the court has set the date”. National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Tlali Tlali said there were “confidential” discussions under way with Zuma`s legal team which prevented him from talking publicly about the court date.



News of the court appearance comes as Zuma spoke out strongly against corruption at the party`s national list conference in Kempton Park. The conference was consolidating the ruling party`s national and provincial proportional representation candidate`s lists that must be submitted to the election authority prior to the general election expected by April. 
“We will come down hard on corrupt civil servants … in fact in all spheres of government. We cannot allow the legacy of our organisation be let down by some of us,” he said.

Much has been written about allegations of corruption and other impropriety surrounding the deal, but little has been proven. Former President Thabo Mbeki`s biographer Mark Gevisser has described the “arms deal”, as it is popularly known, as the “poisoned well of South African politics”. It has also cast a long shadow over the defence industry and the SA National Defence Force`s other acquisition endeavours.