Jacob Zuma's looming court appearance was never a trial date - NPA reacts to Zuma Foundation

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Former president Jacob Zuma.
Former president Jacob Zuma.
Gallo Images/Thulie Dlamini
  • The National Prosecuting Authority has moved to counter an impression that Jacob Zuma's next court appearance was meant to be the start of his trial date.
  • This comes after Zuma's foundation released a statement, suggesting the criminal matter was postponed to a date in May.
  • The NPA says it's "exceedingly disingenuous" to pretend that the trial was set down for 23 February.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) says former president Jacob Zuma's court appearance on Tuesday was never set down as the start of his corruption trial.

This comes after the JG Zuma Foundation released a statement in which it said it hoped that the judiciary would not tolerate any further postponements in the criminal trial of Zuma and his co-accused, French arms company Thales.

"While we as the foundation, doubt the bona fides or readiness of the State to ever run this case, we hope our judiciary will not tolerate any further postponement beyond the date," the statement read.

The foundation further noted that the State said it would be ready to start with the on 17 May 2021.

READ | Karyn Maughan | Why Jacob Zuma should be worried about Thales' racketeering challenge defeat

In addition, it claimed that "these postponements" carry on Zuma's "right to be continuously violated and the narrative that he is guilty continues".

"We hope that the judiciary will not tolerate any further abuse of the process. Indeed justice delayed is justice denied and this has been [former president] Zuma's lived reality and experience of the criminal justice system," the foundation said, adding that it will continue to ask the judiciary to strike this case off until the State is ready.

Earlier this month, News24 reported that the trial of Zuma and Thales could start as soon as May, after the arms dealer indicated it would not fight a ruling dismissing its attempt to have the racketeering charge it faces thrown out. 

On Sunday, the NPA stated that it was "exceedingly disingenuous" to pretend that the trial was set down for 23 February.

The prosecuting authority further noted that when the matter was postponed last year, the court said: "The matter is provisionally to February 23, for the resolution of the following outstanding pre-trial management issues with a view to the court at the provisional hearing on February 23, 2021 certifying the matter as trial ready in accordance with the judge president's pre-trial hearing directives dates November 7,8 [2020]."

In an earlier report, NPA spokesperson Sipho Ngwema told News24: "Indeed, we are pleased with the news that Thales has elected not to appeal the dismissal of its challenge to the racketeering charge. We are delighted also that the State and Thales are ready for trial fairly soon, in the next three months or so."

The case is back in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court on Tuesday when a date for the start of the trial is expected to be set.

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