Zuma in the dock: ‘The state is ready but the defence’s house is not in order’

The Durban High Court on Friday heard that the Presidency has still not responded to a request from former president Jacob Zuma’s lawyers on whether the state will continue to pay his legal fees.

Former president Jacob Zuma appears in the High Court in Durban on June 8 2018. Picture: JACKIE CLAUSEN

Zuma’s attorney Michael Hulley said a letter was sent to the Director General in the Presidency on May 24. However there had been no response.

Hulley represented Zuma at his second appearance on fraud and corruption charges as his preferred advocates‚ Kemp J Kemp and Hoosen Gani‚ are believed not to have obtained clearance from the Presidency to represent the former president.

Hulley hoped that by the next court appearance on July 27‚ the funding issue would be resolved so there would be clarity on the way forward.

An application brought by the DA opposing the state paying Zuma’s legal fees is expected to only go ahead next year. In the meantime the Presidency has said it would uphold the court’s decision.

Hulley told the Durban High Court on Friday that he was unsure whether that meant that the status quo was still in place. He said Zuma still planned to launch an application to review the decision to prosecute him.

Prosecutor Billy Downer consented to the adjournment to allow the defence to “get its house in order” but told the court it was disappointing that both defence teams did not meet expectations.

He explained that the matter was adjourned in April to Friday to allow Zuma and co-accused Thales to launch their applications for a stay of prosecution. However‚ that was not done.

While Zuma failed to launch his application‚ Thales lawyers only submitted their papers to the state two days ago‚ leaving the prosecution little time to consider them.

“The state is ready to proceed but the defence’s house is not in order‚” Downer said.

He mentioned November 12 as a possible trial date. However‚ it is highly unlikely that it would go ahead on that date.

Judge Mjabuliseni Madondo adjourned the matter until next month. It will take place in Pietermaritzburg as the Durban High Court is being renovated.

After the proceedings‚ Zuma appeared in high spirits and greeted his supporters in court‚ including ANC chair of the North West Supra Mahumapelo‚ former SABC chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng and KwaZulu-Natal chair Sihle Zikalala. He even patted Downer on the back before exiting the court.

Zuma is charged with 16 counts that include fraud‚ corruption and racketeering. The charges relate to 783 payments he allegedly received as a bribe to protect French arms company Thales from an investigation into the controversial multi-billion rand arms deal. The alleged bribe was facilitated by Zuma’s former financial adviser‚ Schabir Shaik.

During the brief proceedings Zuma’s co-accused‚ Thales representative Christine Guerrier‚ sat grimly in the dock‚ looking straight ahead and not engaging Zuma.

By: Nivashni Nair -TimesLIVE

Source: TMG Digital.

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