EXPLAINER | Jacob Zuma will not be arrested yet despite warrant being issued

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

While a warrant of arrest has been issued against former president Jacob Zuma, it won't be executed before he is due to appear in court again in May.

The KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg acceded to a request to issue a warrant of arrest for Zuma for non-attendance at his corruption trial on Tuesday morning. Zuma's legal team submitted to court that the former president was ill.

While the warrant was issued by Judge Dhaya Pillay, the execution thereof has been stayed until May 6, when Zuma is expected to appear in court again.

READ| Zuma arrest warrant: Judge questions 'altered' date on sick note, lack of evidence

This means the former number one will not be cuffed by police and brought before court by force.

As long as Zuma presents himself at his next court date, there will be no police officers hunting him down to arrest him and present him to court.

If Zuma fails to appear at the next court appearance, the warrant will be triggered, forcing law enforcement to arrest him, criminal law expert James Grant told News24.

Grant explained that there had to be some explanation to court which had to be accepted for the warrant to be suspended. He said at his next court appearance Zuma would have to explain himself and prove why he could not attend court on Monday.

If the court accepted his explanation, the warrant will be cancelled.

News24 earlier reported that in delivering her decision on Zuma's absence, Pillay outlined that while he may indeed be unwell, there was insufficient evidence in court to prove this, News24 reported earlier.

Zuma's lawyer Daniel Mantsha presented a medical document to court, which he said was from a military doctor.

While the warrant was issued by Judge Dhaya Pillay

READ MORE | Arrest warrant issued for Jacob Zuma over non-attendance at court

However, Pillay said there were issues with the document before court. She said even though it purported to be a form from a military hospital, no other proof was provided to her.

She said the form did not say what his condition was and had many points that required clarification, which Mantsha could not provide.

"The form says there was a layman's diagnosis with the patient's consent. What does this mean? It is puzzling that there is a reference to a layman's diagnosis, and what the patient is giving consent to, is unclear."

She said there were also dates that appeared to be altered.

"The date is altered to be January 6, but there is no initialling of that date. It is not clear that ZK Motene, who signed this document, is indeed a registered medical practitioner. Mr Mantsha assumes it is his medical practice number. That is guesswork."

An image of the document was circulated on social media.

Outside court, Mantsha said the issuing of the warrant was unfair.

"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," Mantsha told journalists.

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