Court gives Zuma a three-week break
Jailed former President Jacob Zuma has won a short-term legal victory, giving him three weeks until his next appearance in his arms deal criminal trial, according to a Business Day report.
Judge Piet Koen ruled that Zuma’s trial be adjourned to 10 August to adjudicate on the issues raised in the special plea.
However, he said his existing directive on a virtual sitting stood to deal with Zuma’s application for the prosecutor’s recusal.
The parties were ordered to provide a list of reasons why a virtual sitting should not proceed in August. Any revocation or revision of that order for a virtual sitting, said Koen, would be communicated to the parties on 4 August. In the interim, he invited Zuma, the Correctional Services Department and the NPA to indicate what prejudice would be suffered because of a virtual sitting.
Zuma is the first accused in the criminal case, in which he has been charged on various counts including corruption, fraud, money laundering, tax evasion and racketeering. Koen has temporarily excused the representative of Zuma’s co-accused – French arms company Thales – as the court addresses Zuma’s shoehorn request to have the prosecutor recused on allegations of bias, and then seek acquittal altogether.
On Monday, Advocate Dali Mpofu for Zuma said the trial ‘proper’ was underway and therefore Zuma was entitled to be physically present during proceedings.
Mpofu asked for a postponement, suggesting Zuma might soon be released from jail. Zuma is awaiting a ruling of the Constitutional Court, which he asked to rescind its order to jail him for contempt of court. Whether Zuma's next appearance on 10 August will be via video link depends on what input the parties provide by early August.
Applause rang out when the judge granted the postponement, notes Business Day.
It says the person applauding was not visible but Mpofu was evidently pleased. Zuma’s long game to scupper the case and evade jail time in the arms deal corruption trial is two-pronged.
For this reason, the three days set down for proceedings in August are paramount, says the report.
First, he aims to persuade the court that Advocate Billy Downer of the NPA must be recused from the criminal trial for bias.
Second, contingent on Downer’s recusal, Zuma wants to be fully acquitted. This would shield him from being prosecuted on the same charges in future.
Article disclaimer: While we have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of this article, it is not intended to provide final legal advice as facts and situations will differ from case to case, and therefore specific legal advice should be sought with a lawyer.