5 new developments in the Zuma corruption case and what they mean

Former president Jacob Zuma appears in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban. (Felix Dlangamandla)
Former president Jacob Zuma appears in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban. (Felix Dlangamandla)

Former president Jacob Zuma made his second appearance in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban on Friday on corruption related charges.

This is what we've learnt from the proceedings.

1. The State is ready to go, but the defence is stalling

Prosecutor Advocate Billy Downer on Friday told Judge Mjabuliseni Madondo that the State was ready to proceed with the case, but that the defence was not.

The defence team for arms manufacturer Thales had sent to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) only two days before an application to withdraw the case against it, which the prosecution now has to go through and consider.

An application in a case of this magnitude will comprise many documents and it will take the prosecuting team some time to work through. Downer said the State had agreed to let Thales' defence team know when they'd reached a decision and depending on what that decision was, work out a timeline for any additional applications Thales would want to bring, subject to the court's approval.

Zuma's legal representative, Michael Hulley, also told Madondo that they are awaiting a response from the Presidency regarding the payment of Zuma's legal fees and would therefore require a postponement.

A postponement was granted until July 27, but at the pace the case is now proceeding, it is becoming unlikely that the trial will start on the projected date of November 12.

2. Zuma still plans to have NPA review decision to prosecute him

Zuma's legal team was meant to submit representations to have the NPA decision to prosecute him reviewed by May 15. But Hulley told the court that due to issues relating to legal costs, they were unable to do so.

Hulley did however indicate to the court that Zuma still planned to pursue this at a later stage.

Zuma's legal team said in April that it would seek a review of National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shaun Abrahams' decision that there was no reason for him not to stand trial.

Experts say this all forms part of the former president's Stalingrad approach to postpone the case for as long as possible.

"This will be the third bite of the cherry Zuma has," said the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution's Lawson Naidoo. "He first tried Mokotedi Mpshe in 2009, and his application was dismissed. Then he tried Shaun Abrahams, who after reviewing the case, decided to reinstate the charges. Now he wants the NPA to review the case for a third time. We have no idea what grounds he can come up with for this."

3. Zuma might not have the money to foot his legal bills

It's clear that the matter of Zuma's legal fees will be a determining factor in this case. The failure by his legal team to meet the May 15 deadline to make representations to the NPA may be because his counsel is reluctant to work on a case they're not sure they will get paid for.

Zuma spent R15.3m on legal fees during the nine years he was challenging the "spy tapes" case.

Hulley told Madondo that they had written to the director general in the Presidency to get clarity on whether the Presidency would continue to pay for Zuma's legal fees as per a longstanding arrangement, or if the status quo had changed.

According to Hulley, the letter was sent on May 24 after the DA and EFF asked the court to declare the payment of all Zuma's legal fees for the "spy tapes" case unlawful, and for him to pay back the money that the state had spent on this.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has said that the Presidency must continue to pay Zuma's legal fees based on a 2006 agreement, unless a court reviews it and sets it aside. This means Zuma's lawyers could find themselves in a situation where there is no money to pay them.

Hulley said they needed clarity on the matter and could not proceed with the case until it was resolved. He is yet to get an answer from the Presidency despite "fervent attempts" to draw a response.

4. Mahumapelo pledged North West ANC's support to Zuma

Former premier of North West and ANC chairperson in the province Supra Mahumapelo pledged his support for the former president.

Mahumapelo attended the court proceedings and in a rousing speech to supporters afterwards said the North West was there to support Zuma because the province believed what was happening to him was wrong.

"In life, when you stand for something that is right, you must stay on what you believe no matter the consequences," he said. "It is wrong for some leaders in this country to say we must not be close to Jacob Zuma. Some of us believe in him."

He also accused the media of finding the former president guilty before he was tried in court.

With those rallying behind Mahumapelo backing Zuma, it is clear that the former president still enjoys support within the ANC in the North West, in addition to KwaZulu-Natal. Mahumapelo made it clear that there was no new party forming outside the ANC but said the he was "not yet dead", implying a possible power play in the party in the near future.

Other former officials who were there to support Zuma include former minister of public service and administration Faith Muthambi, former minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs Des van Rooyen and Hlaudi Motsoeneng, former head of the SABC.

5. The trial will move to Pietermaritzburg

Madondo announced that the trial would continue in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg, because the courthouse has more capacity to accommodate a trial of this nature. Downer also mentioned that due to renovations at the High Court in Durban, the trial would be moved. Zuma's next appearance has been set for July 27. Christine Guerrier, vice-president of dispute resolution and litigation for Thales, has been excused from that appearance as she has to travel from France and the court date is only a holding date.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Voting Booth
President Ramaphosa has punted the idea of mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations for South Africans. This is:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
The right thing to do. We desperately need more South Africans vaccinated to prevent further mutations and restore normality in our lives.
72% - 6340 votes
A risky strategy. Compulsory vaccinations may have unintended consequences and damage our rollout campaign.
28% - 2513 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.