AS IT HAPPENED | Zuma corruption trial: Pietermaritzburg High Court postpones matter until 10 August

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Former president Jacob Zuma in court.
Former president Jacob Zuma in court.
PHOTO: Thulie Dlamini, Gallo Images/Sowetan
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20 July 10:47

ICYMI - WATCH: Former president Jacob Zuma's corruption trial adjourned to 10 August

20 July 10:27

Judge Koen has not made a call on whether Zuma's special plea will be heard on a virtual platform – but he has indicated that he may reconsider his decision to hear argument in the case virtually.

 - Karyn Maughan

20 July 10:24

Judge Piet Koen has ordered that former president Jacob Zuma's lawyers, the NPA and correctional services authorities provide a list of any considerations or prejudice that they consider relevant to his decision to hold the Zuma special plea arguments on a virtual platform.

This list must be relevant to the circumstances that "are anticipated to prevail from 9 August 2021" – the day before Zuma case returns to court.

 - Karyn Maughan

20 July 10:22

The KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg has postponed the matter until 10 August.

Koen: "The trial is adjourned to 10-13 August 2021...with the adjudication of the issues raised in the special plea, in terms of Section 106(1)H, of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977."

Koen: "2. The ruling in respect of the relief claimed in paragraph 1, of the notice of applications dated 17 July 2021, is adjourned to 10 August 2021."

Koen: "3. The directive of 15 July 2021, that the hearing of the special plea will proceed by way of a virtual hearing, shall continue to apply, unless revoked or revised as provided below."

Koen: "4. The parties and the Department of Correctional Services are each invited to provide a list in point form...of any considerations, and/or prejudice which might result, which they consider relevant to the decision, whether the directive should be revoked or revised."

20 July 10:15

Proceedings are now under way, with Judge Piet Koen reading out the ruling on the matter.

20 July 09:16

Zuma has 'taken every point in the book' to avoid answering charges against him, court hears

While former President Jacob Zuma's lawyers seek a postponement of his application for acquittal on corruption charges through a special plea, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) argued on Monday that the former President has for more than 10 years, "... taken every point in the book", to avoid answering to the charges against him.

Advocate Wim Trengove for the NPA said Zuma "desperately" seeks to avoid answering the charges of corruption, fraud, and money laundering made against him.

"He raises objections again and again," Trengove said, adding the objections raised have already been dealt with by the Supreme Court of Appeal in the spy tapes case and a full bench in his stay of prosecution case.

Read more

20 July 09:15

'Yet another delaying tactic': Why state is opposing new Zuma bid for corruption trial postponement

The National Prosecuting Authority has rubbished arguments by Jacob Zuma's lawyers that the incarcerated former President’s fair trial rights will be violated, if his bid for a "special plea" corruption acquittal is argued virtually. 

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20 July 09:14

State will not suffer prejudice if Zuma case is postponed, court hears

The State will not suffer any prejudice if former president Jacob Zuma's application for a postponement is granted, the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg heard on Monday.

Zuma's lawyers are seeking a postponement of his application for acquittal on corruption charges through a special plea because it is being held virtually.

But the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has argued that the former President "desperately" seeks to avoid answering charges against him.

Read more

20 July 09:14

Zuma's lawyers slam 'irresponsible' NPA for linking #UnrestSA to his imprisonment

Jacob Zuma's lawyers have hit out at his prosecutors for stating that the civil unrest that engulfed Kwazulu-Natal and Gauteng earlier this month was linked to the former president's imprisonment - and say they have not provided any evidence to prove this. 

In court papers, Zuma's attorney Bethuel Thusini said assertions by prosecutor Billy Downer that the unrest had begun on 8 July, as protests "against" Zuma's imprisonment that same day, "has not been tested by any evidence". 

Read more

20 July 09:13

Former president Jacob Zuma's lawyers are seeking a postponement of his application for acquittal on corruption charges through a special plea because it is being held virtually.

Zuma's advocate Thabani Masuku SC, says the NPA has been treating Zuma differently from other accused.

The NPA, however, argues that Zuma "desperately" seeks to avoid answering charges against him.

19 July 14:40

Judge Koen will deliver his ruling on Zuma trial postponement tomorrow at 10:00.

Court adjourns.

- Karyn Maughan

19 July 14:35

Masuku says Zuma's lawyers are seeking a three-week postponement of his trial.

- Karyn Maughan

19 July 14:33

COMMENT | Masuku wraps up his argument. He reiterates that the NPA's opposition to Zuma's application for a postponement - while Zuma is incarcerated - is "concerning".

But, when the NPA has previously agreed on postponements, the Zuma Foundation accused the state of "Stalingrad tactics". The antagonism between the defense and the state has a long and increasingly bitter history.

Most recently, Zuma was forced to retract his claims that Downer was "nostalgic" for the days of apartheid.

- Karyn Maughan

19 July 14:09

Masuku tells Koen that he would be in good company if he granted Zuma's application for a postponement - as the Office of the Chief Justice had urged heads of courts to postpone criminal proceedings because of ongoing unrest - which imploded after Zuma was imprisoned by the Constitutional Court. 

We break until 14:25.

- Karyn Maughan

19 July 14:06

Masuku again accuses the NPA of a "zealous pursuit" of Zuma and treating him differently from other accused.

Karyn Maughan

19 July 14:03

Masuku says the rationale behind Koen's decision to have a virtual hearing - that there are "disturbances", Zuma's inability to be in court and South Africa's Level 4 lockdown - were all good. But, he stresses that the virtual hearing would limit Zuma's ability to consult with his lawyers and would damage his right to a fair trial. 

- Karyn Maughan

19 July 13:59

Masuku says there is "no dignity" in Zuma being required to "converse with his lawyers via cellphones of others" during his special plea argument - a reference to the NPA's argument that Zuma could converse with his lawyers from prison, via Teams or cellphone. 

- Karyn Maughan

19 July 13:52

Masuku denies the state's argument that there are not major disputes of fact between the NPA and the defense over Zuma's special plea. The NPA says Zuma's case is based on conspiracy theories, but Masuku says it consists of evidence that would "horrify any accused". 

- Karyn Maughan

19 July 13:48

Masuku accuses the state of taking "15 plus years" to lawfully prosecute Zuma.

Zuma maintains that his multiple failed efforts to attack the state's case against him were not intended to delay the case against him but were part of his legitimate efforts to assert his constitutional rights.

- Karyn Maughan

19 July 13:41

Masuku says the NPA's opposition to Zuma's application for a postponement of his special plea application "does not appear to be reasonable".

Karyn Maughan

19 July 13:40

Masuku now arguing that the state has failed to show that it would suffer any prejudice if Zuma's trial was postponed by two to three weeks. This was to ensure that Zuma's case was conducted in a constitutionally permissible manner, he added.

- Karyn Maughan

19 July 13:04

Advocate Thabani Masuku will reply to Trengove's argument at 13:30. Barry Roux, for Thales, says thee French arms company is concerned about potential delays in the trial.

Court adjourns.

- Karyn Maughan

19 July 12:52

"There is no need for oral evidence," Trengove says, as he urges Koen to decide and dismiss Zuma's special plea application today.

- Karyn Maughan

19 July 12:49

Trengove denies that Downer is not required to be neutral in prosecuting Zuma. His stance that Zuma should be prosecuted did not amount to prosecutorial misconduct, he says. 

- Karyn Maughan

19 July 12:48

"That's all there is: conspiracy theory upon conspiracy theory against Mr Downer", says Trengove.

19 July 12:46

Trengove says Zuma has not provided any "foundation in fact" for the "conspiracy theory" allegations he has made against the state and has therefore not laid a basis for his special plea to be referred to oral evidence. 

- Karyn Maughan

19 July 12:43

Trengove says Zuma's attack on Downer is a "rerun" of complaints he levelled against the prosecutor in the Spy Tapes and permanent stay cases. There is no evidence to back up Zuma's "conspiracy theory" allegations against Downer, he adds.

- Karyn Maughan

19 July 12:38

Key issue here: Trengove says Zuma is trying to argue that Downer does not have title to prosecute him because he is biased and lacked independence - but this attack is not open to him under the law he is using to make it.

- Karyn Maughan

19 July 12:34

Trengove rubbishes Zuma's contention that the NPA is guilty of misconduct and therefore cannot prosecute him. He denies that there is evidence to support this.

- Karyn Maughan

19 July 12:34

Trengove denies that Zuma has the legal power to challenge the title of the NPA to prosecute him for corruption. He can only challenge the title of an individual prosecutor to try him.

Mpofu is unhappy that Trengove is arguing that Zuma's application for a special plea is legally unfounded and can therefore be argued and dismissed without being referred to oral evidence.

- Karyn Maughan

19 July 12:24

Trengove contends that Zuma's "special plea" is nothing more than a rehash of his failed application for a permanent stay of prosecution. He says the plea is not legally allowable and must be dismissed.

- Karyn Maughan

19 July 12:18

Zuma insists that the NPA must present the evidence of Downer, ex-prosecutions bosses Bulelani Ngcuka, Leonard McCarthy, Willie Hofmeyr and Mokotedi Mpshe.

Trengove says this is symptomatic of someone who realises he has not made a case for a special plea and is now trying to do so by interrogating NPA witnesses. 

- Karyn Maughan

19 July 12:13

Trengove says claims by Zuma's lawyer that he wants to testify in his special plea application is not supported by what he himself has said under oath.

He says Zuma "hung his case" on attacking the title of Billy Downer to prosecute him - and only raised his demand that Downer must be forced to testify when it became apparent that Downer had addressed all the allegations levelled against him.

- Karyn Maughan

19 July 12:08

Trengove denies that Zuma is absent from the court because his special plea case is being decided through a virtual hearing - and is fully able to participate in the case.

- Karyn Maughan

19 July 11:53

Trengove says Zuma has, for more than ten years, "taken every point in the book" to avoid answering to the charges against him.

He says the objections now raised by Zuma have already been dealt with by the courts that ruled on the Spy Tapes case and Zuma's failed bid for a permanent stay of his prosecution.

Trengove says Zuma "copy-pasted" 135 paragraphs from his permanent stay application to the ConCourt into his application for a special plea.

Trengove says a virtual platform is legitimate, lawful and appropriate for the determination of Zuma's special plea application.

- Karyn Maughan

19 July 11:45

Trengove stresses that the "right to a fair trial is not a one-way street" - and requires fairness to both the accused and the public.

Karyn Maughan

19 July 11:45

Trengove contends that Zuma does not want to testify in his special plea - despite the assertions made by his attorney. Instead, he says, Zuma wants to put various NPA officials - including lead prosecutor Billy Downer - into the dock, so that he can cross-examine them.

- Karyn Maughan

19 July 11:39

Advocate Wim Trengove says the issues being raised by Zuma in his special plea have already been dealt with by the Appeal Court and the High Court. He says the plea can be debated and decided today and there is no need for oral evidence to be heard. Trengove says the state has a duty to prosecute corruption.

- Karyn Maughan

19 July 11:15

Judge Koen calls for a 15-minute adjournment, and reminds Mpofu that allowance has been made for him to remotely - and privately - consult with Zuma.

Court adjourns for 15 minutes. Proceedings resume at 11:30.

19 July 11:13

Mpofu says it is possible that Zuma may be released by the ConCourt in the next two to three weeks "and then all these problems will be resolved through the stroke of a pen". He asks for a postponement of two to three weeks.

 - Karyn Maughan

19 July 11:11

Mpofu strongly denies that Zuma's postponement application was a delaying tactic, as alleged by the State.

 - Karyn Maughan

19 July 11:09

Judge Koen stresses that he did not suggest that Zuma's case should be postponed – and, in fact, had said that the case may need to be adjourned for a week because of the potential challenges attached to holding a virtual hearing. Those difficulties were later resolved.

 - Karyn Maughan

19 July 11:06

Mpofu argues that Zuma's "special plea" should be determined through the hearing of oral evidence – in other words, through testimony given by witnesses called by Zuma and the NPA.

The State says this is not necessary, as there is no legal basis for Zuma's special plea.

 - Karyn Maughan

19 July 11:01

Mpofu says no one could have foreseen the unrest that arose after Zuma was imprisoned by the Constitutional Court and the difficulties created by his imprisonment.

"None of us were sangomas", he adds.

Mpofu says, at the time that Koen postponed Zuma's trial so that he could argue his special plea, everyone assumed the case would be decided through a public hearing, where Zuma was able to consult his lawyers.

 - Karyn Maughan

19 July 10:54

Koen stresses that Zuma's case has already been extremely delayed and it is in everyone's interests – including Zuma's interests – that it be resolved. He says it will be in the interests of justice for the special plea to be argued, and the issues that may require the hearing of oral evidence then determined.

 - Karyn Maughan

19 July 10:49

Judge Koen points out to Mpofu that 5 000 pages of evidence have already been submitted in Zuma's special plea application. He questions what the point of all these affidavits was, if Zuma now insists that oral evidence must be led in the case.

Mpofu says the affidavits already filed mention that Zuma wishes to lead oral testimony as part of his special plea application.

 - Karyn Maughan

19 July 10:46

The State argues that Zuma's "special plea" application – in which he argues that the entire National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) does not have "title" to try him for corruption because it is too biased against him – is a matter for argument and can therefore be decided through a virtual hearing.

Mpofu however maintains that the special process is part of Zuma's trial and therefore cannot be conducted in his absence from the courtroom.

 - Karyn Maughan

19 July 10:38

Mpofu has also revealed that Zuma brought a second urgent application to block his arrest and imprisonment by law enforcement, but it was dismissed by Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Bezuidenhout, who found that the application – which was launched hours before Zuma's arrest – was not urgent.

 - Karyn Maughan

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