Zuma’s ‘luxurious litigation’

2019-05-24 14:52
Jacob Zuma at the Pietermaritzburg high court on Thursday.

Jacob Zuma at the Pietermaritzburg high court on Thursday. (AP)

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WATCH LIVE: Jacob Zuma continues battle for stay of prosecution

2019-05-24 09:41

Former president Jacob Zuma continues his fight for a permanent stay of his prosecution for corruption. Watch live.WATCH

Former president Jacob Zuma has engaged in litigation spanning almost 14 years that has cost taxpayers between R16 million to R32 million.

He is the reason why his case has been delayed, said state advocate Wim Trengove, SC.

It was his turn to be in the spotlight on Thursday, arguing before Pietermaritzburg high court judges Jerome Mnguni, Thoba Poyo-Dlwati and Esther Steyn about why the prosecution against Zuma and Thales should steam ahead.

Zuma is charged with one count of racketeering, two of corruption, one of money laundering, and 12 of fraud.

Thales is charged with one count of money laundering and racketeering, and two of corruption.

The charges relate to the hundreds of payments Zuma allegedly received from his former financial adviser Schabir Shaik and an alleged R500 000 a year the pair wanted from Thales to protect it from investigations into the 1990s arms deal.

Trengove told the court he would merely highlight “key issues of fact”.

These included Zuma’s “Stalingrad defence”, and the decisions to prosecute him by former NDPPs Mokotedi Mpshe and Vusi Pikoli.

He said there is “not a shred of evidence” to show the decisions were politically motivated.

Trengove said the state will show “a consistent pattern of litigation, designed ultimately to delay, and we list all the cases by which this was done”.

He said that since 2009, there was only “one month” in which there was no litigation before the courts relating to the Zuma matter.

“Mr Zuma lost all those cases ... the litigation was done at public expense,” he said, adding it cost the taxpayer between R16 million and R32 million. It was “luxurious litigation”.

Judge Poyo-Dlwati pointed out that it seemed that all the applications were successful and the State appealed and it was successful.

Trengove said: “Yes, but it failed in the final analysis.”

He concluded that Zuma’s answer about the litigation is that he is entitled to exercise his rights.

He emphasised that the primary cause of the delay in the prosecutions was the protracted litigation.

He also dealt with the seriousness of the crime and said there was very high public interest in seeing this matter prosecuted.

“It is important when a very powerful public official is accused of serious crimes, he must be treated as anyone else would. The nature of the crime in this case, is a very powerful factor in this case,” Trengove said.

Of Zuma’s argument that he should have been charged with Shaik, so that he would have been able to cross-examine him, Trengove asked what if Shaik had not been put on the stand?

Then he would not have been cross-examined, he continued.

“There is no reason to say [Zuma] is worse off today,” said Trengove.

Regarding the reputational harm Zuma has suffered, Trengove admitted he suffered harm but argued it was not because of the delays.

He said that while Zuma was dismissed from cabinet because of the Shaik judgment, he later went on to oust president Thabo Mbeki and was elected as the president. Trengove said his career flourished.

He also said that if Zuma is not prosecuted, he will be seen by the public to be “receiving special treatment”.

“It is important he needs to be treated like everyone else,” he said.

Trengove said that while it is true there has been a long delay, the outcome is that the prosecution has been reinstituted.

Advocate Andrew Breitenbach, SC, took over and responded to Thales’ application, saying the company has been responsible for delaying the prosecution from 2004 on and not the NPA. He said the case against Thales is very serious and strong.

Argument continues.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  jacob zuma
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