Cape Town – Almost two decades after she went to Parliament to call for a probe into the arms deal, Patricia de Lille says she finally feels “vindicated” after the National Prosecuting Authority announced on Friday that former president Jacob Zuma will face corruption charges.
“He always said he wanted his day in court. He is a pensioner now; so now he has time to spend his own money on lawyers to prepare to give his side of the story,” she told News24 shortly after the announcement.
“It was September 9, 1999, that I went to Parliament and asked for this investigation. After such a long time, I really feel vindicated.”
NPA head Shaun Abrahams said it would prosecute Zuma on 16 charges of corruption, money laundering and racketeering.
The charges relate to 783 questionable payments Zuma allegedly received in connection with the controversial multi-billion rand arms deal.
De Lille was the initial whistleblower regarding the arms deal.
Now a DA member and Cape Town mayor, she was a Pan Africanist Congress MP at the time.
De Lille lauded the NPA for “finally making the right decision”.
“It should have been done a long time ago, even before we wasted millions on the Seriti Commission that [allegedly] had a predetermined outcome.”
Zuma appointed the commission in September 2011, after the Western Cape High Court was asked in 2009 to set up an independent judicial inquiry into alleged corruption related to the arms deal.
The arms deal saw government acquiring, among other items, 26 Gripen fighter aircraft, 24 Hawk lead-in fighter trainer aircraft for the SA Air Force, and frigates and submarines for the SA Navy.
The then president said the commission had concluded that there was no room for it to “draw adverse inferences, inconsistent with the direct, credible evidence presented to it”.
“Government had been of the view that any findings pointing to wrongdoing should be given to law enforcement agencies for further action. There are no such findings and the Commission does not make any recommendations,” Zuma said at the time.