State argues against Zuma stay of prosecution: Stalingrad brought us here

2019-05-23 15:09
Former president Jacob Zuma in the KZN High Court in Pietermaritzburg. (Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24)

Former president Jacob Zuma in the KZN High Court in Pietermaritzburg. (Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24)

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In 2007, former president Jacob Zuma's long-time lawyer Kemp J Kemp told the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban that Zuma's litigation was "more like Stalingrad. It's burning house to burning house."

Now, more than a decade later, Zuma's Stalingrad defence is continuing, the State has argued before the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg. 

Advocate Wim Trengove, SC, argued against Zuma's application for a permanent stay of prosecution and took the court through the decade-plus of litigation Zuma initiated to delay his prosecution. This is known as a Stalingrad defence.

Zuma, Trengove submitted, is also responsible for the delay in his own corruption case, but is asking the court to grant him a permanent stay of prosecution because of the self-same delay. 

Delays

He pointed out that since 2009, there was only one month in which there was not litigation before the courts relating to the Zuma matter. 

Trengove, after some questioning from the bench said: "We are not here asking for Mr Zuma to be punished for the Stalingrad defence. We can live with it." 

Zuma has exercised his rights, Trengove stated.

"But don't now come complain to this court about the delays." 

The series of court actions by Zuma showed "a consistent pattern of litigation, designed to ultimately delay".

Altogether, Zuma racked up a legal bill of between R16m and R32m at the expense of the public purse. 

No special treatment

Trengove told the court there was a high risk that if Zuma escaped prosecution, he would be seen to have received special treatment because he was an important and a powerful man. 

"He is accused of corruption, racketeering, money laundering and fraud in high public office. He managed to avoid prosecution in the highest public office," Trengove told the court.  

"He managed to do so by using to the hilt the constitutional legal system available to him at public expense."

If Zuma was not prosecuted now, it would create the impression that he, as a powerful man, exploited the options available to him and was victorious over the NPA.

"It is important in the maintenance of the rule of law, for all people to be seen to be treated equally. For that reason, it is important too, for Mr Zuma to be seen to be treated the same as others would have been too," Trengove said. 

The matter continues on Thursday afternoon and advocate Andrew Breitenbach, SC, who is representing the State, is expected to argue against the application by Zuma's co-accused, Thales, which also applied for a permanent stay of prosecution.

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Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  pietermaritzburg  |  courts  |  crime
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