Shaun Abrahams turns down Zuma's request to put corruption trial on ice

Shaun Abrahams (Netwerk24)
Shaun Abrahams (Netwerk24)

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss Shaun Abrahams has turned down a request by former president Jacob Zuma's lawyers to stay his corruption matter pending the resolution of issues around legal fees. 

Abrahams said in a letter written to Zuma's lawyers on Monday: "I regrettably cannot accede to your request for a 'stay of proceedings in all criminal and allied matters'." 

NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku confirmed to News24 that Abrahams turned down the request.

"We confirm that the NDPP (National Director of Public Prosecutions) has written to the legal representatives of the former president advising them that he cannot accede to their request. The matter will appear in court and all the issues relating to the matter will be ventilated in court." 

Zuma is expected to appear in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban on Friday. 

Zuma's attorney Michael Hulley had previously told News24 that he "terminated" the services of counsel for the case. 

When asked if he himself had resigned as Zuma's attorney, Hulley responded: "No, I haven't. I have had to terminate counsel's briefs in the matter because of the uncertainty around [legal] fees." 

Payment agreement

The Presidency said previously that it would abide by any future ruling of the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on the government's provision of legal assistance to Zuma.

The DA filed papers in the High Court in late March, asking it to set aside a 2006 agreement the Presidency had signed regarding legal costs the former president incurred for his criminal prosecution.

This was after President Cyril Ramaphosa revealed that the agreement, signed by Zuma under then president Thabo Mbeki, formed the basis for the decision to continue paying for Zuma's legal fees in the "spy tapes" matter.

Abrahams announced in March that the NPA would go ahead with the prosecution of Zuma on 16 charges, including corruption, money laundering and racketeering.

Former NPA boss Mokotedi Mpshe dropped the charges in 2009, based on the recordings of the spy tapes, which were presented to him by Zuma's legal team.

The tapes were made up of recordings of telephone conversations between then Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy and former NPA boss Bulelani Ngcuka. Zuma's legal team claimed the recordings showed political interference in the decision to charge him.

The charges were subsequently withdrawn, just before Zuma was sworn in for his first term as president.

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