Thales to appeal SA court decision


French defence firm Thales will ask South Africa’s highest court for permission to appeal an October ruling dismissing its request to have charges it bribed former President Jacob Zuma permanently dropped.

Thales is accused of agreeing to pay Zuma R500 000 ($34,000) annually for protection from an investigation into a $2 billion arms deal in 1999.

Charges against Thales and Zuma were originally filed a decade ago but set aside by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), paving the way for Zuma to successfully run for president in 2009.

Charges were reinstated in March 2018 by the NPA following appeals and lobbying by opposition parties and anti-corruption groups.

In mid-October the Pietermaritzburg High Court dismissed an application by Zuma and Thales for a permanent stay of prosecution and set a provisional trial date of February 4, 2020.

“Thales confirms on 1 November 2019 it applied to the Constitutional Court of South Africa for leave to appeal the High Court’s decision which dismissed its challenge to the lawfulness of the decision to reinstate charges against it,” the French firm said in a statement.

Zuma will also appeal the decision, meaning the trial would likely begin only in late in 2020.

Thales’ local public relations firm did not immediately reply to an email sent by Reuters seeking details of the appeal application.

Thales, Thompson-CSF in 1999, consistently argued it has no knowledge of transgressions committed by employees in relation to the awarding of the contracts.