Zuma corruption case adjourned to September, no trial date set yet

  • Former President Jacob Zuma's corruption matter was postponed to 8 September 2020.
  • A warrant of arrest against him was cancelled after an accepted sick note was submitted to court.
  • Covid-19 could prevent some international witnesses from travelling to South Africa for the matter.

Proceedings for former president Jacob Zuma's corruption case together with co-accused arms company Thales has been adjourned to September as document submissions between parties further delayed proceedings.

Zuma appeared for the first time in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday since his sick note debacle in February.

Zuma's matter was postponed to 8 September so the parties involved could get all documents, submissions and reviews in order before deciding on a trial date.

The hotly debated issue of discussions between Judge President Achmet Jappie and prosecutor Billy Downer over a start date was quickly quashed in court.

The defence argued that there had been inappropriate discussions surrounding the case between the two.

Judge Kate Pillay said the matter would not be heard in the High Court because it was not the appropriate forum.

"You'll respect that this court has no powers to deal with that matter," she said.

She however asked Zuma's lawyer Muzi Sikhakhane what they would do to address the conduct of Jappie and Downer.

"It's not that we're questioning the role of the Judge President to run a matter. Our client is unhappy about a telephonic conversation between the [Judge Jappie] and Mr Downer," Sikhakhane said.

He also said they were unhappy about a letter between Jappie and Downer.

"We were unhappy that when you read that letter, the discussion wasn't just about an arrangement, it's clear that changing and amending an indictment was discussed."

Sick note acceptable

The court also put Zuma's sick note debacle to rest, after a new note was handed to court.

Sikhakhane submitted that it was just an administrative issue. This after Zuma failed to turn up to court due to treatment he was receiving in Cuba.

Former South African President Jacob Zuma appears at the Pietermaritzburg High Court.
Former South African President Jacob Zuma appears
Former South African President Jacob Zuma appears at the Pietermaritzburg High Court.

"The sick note submitted to the court was questioned by the previous court. We've brought another one to prove that Mr Zuma was ill."

Pillay then cancelled the warrant of arrest for Zuma after Downer accepted the new note.

Covid-19's role in the case

Downer also highlighted that court proceedings on Tuesday were questioned because of Covid-19 restrictions.

He stated that some witnesses required for Thales were from overseas and that due to an international travel ban, their presence in court in subsequent appearances could be affected.

Pillay said South African witnesses could make themselves available until the restrictions are lifted.

Responding, Downer said the challenge with setting a date in August was that this is the earliest time with which they could provide Thales with requested documentation.

Some documents required were from the mid-2000s and was thus difficult to extract timeously, Downer said.

The matter will now reconvene in September.

Also pending is a separate review application expected to be brought by Thales on their charges in the matter, but which has not been submitted yet.

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