The Pietermaritzburg High Court has granted former president Jacob Zuma temporary relief by postponing his fraud and corruption trial to August 10. It was granted during a short judgement handed down on Tuesday morning despite the state opposing the application, with prosecutors arguing that this was another of Zuma’s delay tactics.
Zuma’s legal representative, advocate Dali Mpofu, wanted the same court to undertake an inquisitorial investigation in which Zuma would give evidence about the spy tape issue, which the court had already ruled on previously.
Mpofu also sought a declaratory ruling that the hearing of his special plea on a virtual platform would be inconsistent with his constitutional rights. On August 10 the court will decide on Zuma’s plea that the matter should not be heard virtually after receiving submissions from the defence and the prosecutors.
Judge Piet Koen has meanwhile asked the department of correctional services to compile potential prejudices if proceedings continue on a virtual platform.
In a previous hearing, Mpofu told the court that they would not present arguments on Zuma’s special plea since the former statesman was only present on a virtual platform.
Advocate Wim Trengove of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said that the authority had arranged with the Estcourt Correctional Centre to ensure that Zuma has unlimited access to consult his legal team through private visits and virtual Zoom meetings.
Trengove argued that the special plea was a delay tactic by Zuma and his legal representatives, adding that the courts dealt with the conspiracy theories adequately and that the spy tapes were dismissed in the lower courts.
At the same proceedings last week, Zuma’s senior legal counsel, Thabani Masuku, maintained that it was difficult to consult with him since his incarceration.
Zuma faces 18 charges and 783 counts related to the arms deal case. The charges include fraud, corruption, money laundering and racketeering. He is charged alongside French arms manufacturer Thales.
He has pleaded not guilty to all charges, which form part of an indictment in his corruption trial.
Zuma has always maintained that he is innocent and that the charges levelled against him are politically motivated and part of a political ploy to destroy him.
Among the bribes Zuma is alleged to have pocketed is a R500 000 annual retainer that was allegedly paid by Thales through his then financial adviser Schabir Shaik, whose Nkobi Holdings was a BEE partner to Thales in the deal.