Whether former President Jacob Zuma has succeeded in further delaying his corruption trial will be known today when KZN High Court (Pietermaritzburg) Judge Piet Koen delivers his decision on the former President’s application to postpone a virtual hearing so he can be present to make an oral submission. 

Zuma is seeking a postponement of his application for acquittal on corruption charges through a special plea – arguing Billy Downer SC, who is leading the prosecution, lacks independence and impartiality – but the NPA argued yesterday 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 SC, 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 SCA in the spy tapes case and a full Bench in his stay of prosecution case.

'This is simply a rehash of old complaints dressed up as special defence under section 106 (1) (h) (of the Criminal Procedure Act). But it is merely a ruse. It is recycling of old complaints,’ Trengove said.

Trengove also said 135 paragraphs of Zuma's current heads of argument were ‘simply lifted’ from his application for leave to appeal to the Constitutional Court.

He added: ‘This application is Stalingrad season 27, and that's all it is.’

Koen had issued a directive that the application should be argued virtually. However, Advocate Dali Mpofu SC argued Zuma’s rights to a fair trial would be violated if the special plea was argued virtually. He told the court that Zuma had a right to be present in court and that his special plea application should be determined through the hearing of oral evidence. He also told the court that Zuma's lawyers have been struggling to consult with the former President, notes the News24 report.

But Trengove said the virtual platform was, ‘... legitimate, lawful, and appropriate for the determination of the special defence because it may be determined without oral evidence’.

He said Zuma was present and could also participate as much as he would have been able to do in an actual court hearing.

Trengove added that the request for oral evidence was, ‘... unfounded and unnecessary’. ‘There is no point in any oral evidence. The special defence under 106 (1) (h) can and should be decided on the papers as they stand.’

The former President faces 16 charges relating to 783 payments he allegedly received from his former financial adviser Schabir Shaik, as well as a R500 000 a year bribe that that state says Shaik facilitated for him from French arms company Thales.

Full News24 report