Corruption-accused former president Jacob Zuma wasn’t the only one who wound up scoring big as a result of his relationship with French arms dealer Thales, according to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) at least.
Of the 791 dodgy payments the NPA has now charged Zuma over, it says almost half – 349 – were channelled to his children.
Zuma and Thales are facing dozens of counts of graft – among them fraud‚ corruption, money laundering and racketeering charges – related to a controversial multibillion-rand arms deal proffered in the 1990s.
Among the allegations is that Zuma – then the MEC for economic development in KwaZulu-Natal – received an annual kickback of R500 000 – paid through his former financial advisor and convicted fraudster, Schabir Shaik – in exchange for shielding Thales from an investigation into the deal and he is said to have been gifted a total of R4 million between October 1995 and July 2006.
Shaik was charged with corruption in 2003 and after he was found guilty in 2005, the state went after Zuma and Thales. Their case wound up being struck from the roll the following year, though, after a series of delays.
In 2007, it was reinstated but then in 2009 – and in the wake of the spy tapes saga – the NPA withdrew the charges.
In 2017, however, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) overturned that decision and in 2018, the case was again reinstated and Zuma and Thales again summoned to court.
In the papers currently before the court, the state has classified 93 of the 791 dodgy payments it flagged as “Zuma children education”.
These payments range from R200 all the way up to R18,000 and were allegedly paid to various basic and tertiary education institutions – including to St Catherine’s private school in Empangeni and to the University of Zululand.
Another 56 payments – of between R400 and at least R12,000 – have been classified as “Zuma children vehicle” and another 193 – of between around R600 and at least R5000 – as “Zuma children allowance”.
But (according to the papers at least) the former president also managed to treat himself – with Thales said to have footed the bill for everything from R25 car washes to writing off R400,000 worth of debt for him.