Zuma rifle picture: Are there any legal ramifications?

2020-02-06 18:16
Former president Jacob Zuma. (Image via Twitter, @PresJGZuma)

Former president Jacob Zuma. (Image via Twitter, @PresJGZuma)

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While many public debates rage on about former president Jacob Zuma's warrant of arrest, the one-time head of state reportedly posted a picture of himself posing with what appears to be a rifle.

While his son, Edward Zuma, told eNCA on Thursday the picture was taken two years ago, News24 canvassed two legal experts to weigh in on the legal ramifications of the picture that was posted on Twitter a day after the issuing of his stayed warrant of arrest.

READ: Picture of Jacob Zuma aiming gun is two years old - Edward Zuma

Legal expert Ulrich Roux said timelines would play a pivotal role if the picture were to be brought to court.

"The difficulty with that photo is obviously if they can prove if it was taken over the period Jacob Zuma was supposed to have appeared in court, then he would have difficulty explaining to the judge on May 6 that he in fact was receiving medical treatment and he couldn't attend court."

Timelines

He said this meant the State would have to prove the timelines.

"If the State was to present this photo to court, they would have to prove the originality thereof and the date on which the photo was taken. In the event that they can get an affidavit under oath from someone saying yes, I was with Jacob Zuma on that day and he was firing that firearm on that day and he was clearly not sick, then yes, there could definitely be an issue."

He, however, added that in the absence of them being able to prove the exact time, "they would have difficulty".

Roux added he felt the warrant of arrest was justified but that this does not mean much could happen to Zuma at this stage.

"We must not lose sight of the fact that the warrant has been stayed. That means it's not active and he won't be arrested before May 6."

He added: "The medical letter was not convincing enough for the judge to accept, so she rightfully issued the warrant of arrest."

Roux said if Zuma could show he was sick he would not have to be concerned about the warrant of arrest.

"If he can show he was sick, the warrant would be cancelled immediately, but if not, it can be activated immediately."

He said Zuma would have to attend court on May 6 with "proper evidence, possibly with an affidavit from his doctor saying what illness he's being diagnosed with and where and when he was attended to".

Of little consequence

Lawyer Piet du Plessis said he felt the picture would likely be of little consequence in court.

"I understand his son, Edward, said the picture was taken two years ago and has nothing to do with his current condition. Someone posted it but I don't know what the intention was."

He said the issue surrounding the stayed warrant of arrest was exaggerated. 

"The warrant issue is a storm in a teacup. He had to be in court, but it is not as if the case was set down for trial on the day. We didn't have lots of witnesses who travelled to testify in the matter. It was always going to be postponed, whether he was there or not."

Speaking about the picture, Du Plessis said it was inconsequential.

"I can't see it having any relevance to his non-appearance."

Du Plessis added if Zuma missed his May court appearance, his lawyers would have to bring more substantial evidence of his illness.

"They will need proper evidence. A doctor who treated him would likely have to be brought in to give testimony."

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  courts  |  health
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