More woes for Jacob Zuma after court orders he is responsible for his legal fees

Former president Jacob Zuma will have to pay his own legal costs which were incurred in his personal capacity in criminal cases instituted against him.

"It is declared that the State is not liable for legal costs incurred by Zuma," Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba said when he handed down judgment in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Thursday.   

Ledwaba said the decision the Presidency and the state attorney had taken, that the State would cover the legal costs Zuma incurred in his personal capacity, was invalid and he set it aside. 

The state attorney was also directed to compile a full and complete account of all the legal costs that Zuma incurred in his personal capacity in the criminal prosecution instituted against him and all related or ancillary litigation. This includes all the applications referred to in his matter, which the State paid for. In addition, the state attorney was told to take all necessary steps, including the institution of civil proceedings, to recover the amounts paid.

The state attorney was ordered to file a report within three months, detailing the steps taken, and those that will be taken, to recover the amounts the State had paid.

DA application

The DA filed papers late in March, asking the court to set aside a 2006 agreement relating to legal costs Zuma incurred for his criminal prosecution, which the Presidency signed.

This was after President Cyril Ramaphosa revealed that the agreement, signed by Zuma under former president Thabo Mbeki, formed the basis of the decision to continue paying Zuma's legal fees in the so-called spy tapes case.

Both the DA and EFF lodged applications in the High Court, asking it to set aside the decisions the state attorney made in Zuma's bid to have his legal costs funded by the state.

READ: Zuma will pay his legal fees if court orders him to Ramaphosa

During the hearing in November, advocate Thabani Masuku, who represented Zuma, said: "There is no evidence of corruption involved between the state attorney, Mr [Michael] Hulley, and Mr Zuma," regarding the former president's fees. 

Masuku argued that the applicants had failed to address why it took more than 10 years to review the decision, adding that the DA knew about the funding as far back as September 2008 during a parliamentary question session.

The EFF also argued that it sought an order directing the former president and Hulley to pay the money back to the State attorney in Zuma's legal battle.

It was the EFF's argument that the State attorney paid more than R25m of taxpayers' money to a private attorney firm, Hulley and Associates, for legal costs Zuma incurred.

ALSO READ: Zuma legal fees: dismiss DA case on-basis of undue delay lawyers argue

The Presidency said on Thursday afternoon that it had noted the judgment.

"The Presidency specifically notes the court's interpretation of the applicable law, [it] will abide by the court's decision, in line with a notice to this effect filed with the court in May 2018," spokesperson Khusela Diko said in a statement.

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