'This is victimisation, this is persecution' - Zuma's lawyer on arrest warrant

2020-02-04 14:24
Former president Jacob Zuma is seen during his corruption, racketeering and money laundering trial outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court. (Darren Stewart, Gallo Images, file)

Former president Jacob Zuma is seen during his corruption, racketeering and money laundering trial outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court. (Darren Stewart, Gallo Images, file) (Darren Stewart)

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The issuing of warrant of arrest against former president Jacob Zuma in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg was unfair, his lawyer said after proceedings on Tuesday.

"He is being persecuted and victimised. It is not about the administration of justice or securing him to come to court. This is victimisation, this is persecution," Zuma's lawyer Daniel Mantsha said.

READZuma arrest warrant: Judge questions 'altered' date on sick note, lack of evidence 

He was speaking to journalists outside the court shortly after the warrant of arrest was issued for non-attendance. Zuma's legal team has submitted that the former president is ill.

The warrant was stayed until May 6 when Zuma is expected to appear again.

Mantsha said their legal team would "have a discussion to indicate to him the reason of the court and basis on which the court has granted the warrant".

"We [the broader legal team] will convene and scrutinise the reasoning of the judge and, upon instructions, we will decide the next course of action."

'Doubt'

READ | 'Sick' Jacob Zuma's first 2020 appearance for corruption trial likely to be postponement

He said it was sad that Judge Dhaya Pillay had disagreed with the "medical certificate" that was handed in.  

"Why would the court doubt a medical certificate from the military hospital? [That] is disappointing. I will have to talk to the doctors with Zuma if he is in a condition to listen to this, then we will engage. I will get advice from his medical team."

Mantsha said there should be no doubt that Zuma was ill.

"Why should we doubt he is unwell? Why should there be a discussion like that? He has been coming to this court for many years, even when he was not required to come. Accused number two has not been coming to court and the State never applied for a warrant of arrest."

In a veiled swipe, Mantsha said even judges could make mistakes.

"We believe in the judiciary. We assume every judge presiding over any matter is sufficiently independent and acts fairly. Judges are human beings and they can make an error of fact in law.

"When you conclude an error of fact, there are procedures to follow if you feel you have to take the matter further."

Senior State advocate Billy Downer asked Judge Pillay to issue an arrest warrant for Zuma after his legal team applied for him to be absent from proceedings in Pietermaritzburg, citing ill health.

Mantsha submitted documents to the court, saying the former president was ill and had not been in the country since January 23.

Downer, however, has requested information from the defence regarding Zuma's ailments, which they have yet to receive.

The State also raised questions over Zuma's medical note submitted to the court, particularly an alteration in the date section.

Pillay acceded to the request.

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  state capture  |  corruption  |  courts
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