JZ ‘being persecuted’

2020-02-05 13:20
Jacob Zuma.

Jacob Zuma.

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Jacob Zuma’s attorney on Tuesday lashed out at the court for issuing a warrant of arrest against his client, even though it is being stayed.

The court was told Zuma is overseas seeking medical treatment but it was not specified where.

A visibly upset Daniel Mantsha told journalists outside the Pietermaritzburg high court that Zuma is being “persecuted” and “victimised”.

He said the legal team would meet and “scrutinise” Judge Dhaya Pillay’s reasoning before deciding what the next course of action will be.

Mantsha also said the warrant shows that “our courts have no sympathy, compassion” for the ill.

Judge Pillay stayed the warrant until May 6, when Zuma’s case returns to court. On that date, the former statesman will have some explaining to do. He will have to indicate why he was absent from court on Tuesday and why the warrant should not be executed.

Zuma, along with French arms company Thales, is charged with fraud and corruption.

Mantsha told journalists that Zuma was present in court on numerous previous occasions, even when he was not required to turn up. He continued that a Thales representative has not always been present, yet there has never been a warrant issued in this instance.

He said he is concerned about how Zuma, an “elderly” person who fell “ill”, is being treated. He said this will send the wrong message to the public.

But in court, Judge Pillay’s sentiments were different. She said that on Monday she issued a warrant of arrest for someone who failed to appear in court.

“I have to be consistent with the rules of court and what society expects of the court. We have rules … it is the duty of the court to treat everyone equally,” she said.

Mantsha had submitted a “sick note” to the court, which the judge considered to be inadmissible. It is from the military hospital where Zuma was treated.

The judge took issue with the note. She wanted to know what “layman’s diagnosis with the patient’s consent” means, why the official stamp did not have a date on it, why the date on the document had been altered to say January 6, and why there was no signature above this alteration.

It was also not clear to her who signed the document and if that person was a registered medical practitioner.

When the judge asked why the letter came from a military hospital, Mantsha said that Zuma’s health is an issue of “national security”.

Judge Pillay said the court does not have reliable evidence of the status of the person signing the document. “The court accepts that Zuma might be unwell. There is nothing to suggest he is or he is not. What the court requires is reliable proof that Zuma is ill and when he will be able to stand trial. This is necessary to determine how the trial will be conducted.”

When Zuma and Thales return to court on May 6, arrangements are likely to be made on a trial date.

Tuesday was just a holding date and the trial was not meant to start.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  jacob zuma

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