5 new things we learned from Zuma's latest court appearance
On Friday former president Jacob Zuma appeared for the third time on corruption related charges in the Pietermaritzburg High Court. Here are five things we learnt from his latest court appearance.
1. Application for permanent stay of prosecution
Zuma's defence team is preparing an application for a permanent stay of prosecution based on four pillars: a delay in charging, a delay in going to trial, "significant pre-trial irregularities" based on the Browse Mole report and the "spy tapes" and "executive interference" at the highest level with prosecutorial independence.
In layman's terms, this means they want the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to stop prosecuting Zuma permanently on the charges he is currently facing. Zuma's new senior counsel, Advocate Mike Hellens, said that they plan to bring a "formidable application" in this regard.
2. A matter of time
Zuma's defence team has until 16 November to submit his application for a permanent stay of prosecution. Advocate Billy Downer contended that the State is ready to proceed with the case. He requested that the defence only be given four to six weeks to prepare the application. Downer argued that while the prosecution hasn't seen the application, they can only imagine that the arguments made therein will not be new and the defence would therefore not need that much time. Judge Mjabuliseni Madondo nevertheless granted the defence's request for three months to prepare the application.
3. Trial date likely postponed
The criminal trial is only likely to proceed early next year. After the defence team has submitted Zuma's application for a permanent stay of prosecution, the State will then need time to prepare and submit its response. It is therefore unlikely that the trial will start on the conditional date set for 30 November. If Zuma's application is successful, that will in any case be the end of the matter.
4. Who's paying?
Questions still linger about how Zuma is able to afford his new legal team. The new team consists of Hellens, senior counsels Dawie Joubert, Thabani Masuku and Muzi Sikhakhane and junior counsel Mpilo Sikhakhane. Former Denel chair Daniel Mantsha is his new instructing attorney, after Michael Hulley's service was terminated. The Presidency confirmed it will only pay for one senior counsel and two junior counsel pending the outcome of court applications by the DA and EFF asking that the State halt funding for Zuma's legal fees.
Hellens made it clear that funding will not determine the outcome of the case, saying: "There will not be funding issues with this team. You can rest assured that this team is here to stay."
Zuma's co-accused, the French arms manufacturer, Thales, also plans to apply for a permanent stay of prosecution and will also have until 16 November to submit their application. Furthermore, the indictment against Thales could be amended to add a new charge. An agitated Advocate Anton Katz SC, for Thales, told the court that prosecutions boss Shaun Abrahams responded to their application for a review of the decision to prosecute Thales not only from the wrong legal basis, but also cited legislation for the new charge that does not technically exist. Madondo ordered the State to supply the final indictment to Thales within 14 days.