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Zuma out of options following SCA dismissal

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The SCA dismissed with costs the application for leave to appeal by Zuma, not only on the grounds that there was no reasonable prospect of success on appeal but also that there was ’no other compelling reason why an appeal should be heard’.

Former president Jacob Zuma. File picture: Mike Hutchings/Reuters

FROMER President Jacob Zuma may be out of options to avoid his arms deal trial after the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) dismissed his petitions, including removing State advocate Billy Downer from his corruption trial, on Thursday.

The SCA echoed Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Piet Koen’s words by dismissing the former statesman’s application to appeal his corruption prosecution by ruling that there is “no reasonable prospect of success”.

The SCA on Thursday dismissed with costs the application for leave to appeal by Zuma, not only on the grounds that there was no reasonable prospect of success on appeal but also that there was “no other compelling reason why an appeal should be heard”.

UCT constitutional law professor Pierre de Vos said legally, Zuma had no option but to face trial.

However, he said there were options Zuma could make use of to delay facing trial.

“He could try and approach the Constitutional Court but his legal arguments have no merit so it won’t be entertained there.

“Legally he has no option but to just go to trial and at the end of the trial, make the arguments he has been making,” De Vos said.

He said serious medical issues could also be another way to avoid or delay trial.

Zuma asked the appeal court for the right to challenge Koen’s dismissal of his “special plea” application.

Zuma wanted Downer to be removed as the chief prosecutor of his arms deal corruption case, accusing him of compromising bias against him and having acted unlawfully on several occasions while handling confidential information.

Zuma alleged that Downer leaked vital information about him, including his medical records, to a journalist.

His “special plea” and petition at the SCA also included the refusal of the appeal and the refusal of the application to introduce new evidence at the high court.

He wanted witnesses to be called to testify about the abuses he claimed to have suffered at the hands of the State.

Koen, citing several reasons during his plea dismissal, said he saw no prospects of success and the high stakes corruption trial must go ahead on April 11, 2022.

Issuing strong instructions before setting the trial date, Koen told Zuma’s legal team to ensure that the former head of state should avail himself on the said date so that the arms deal corruption trial, which he previously said had been long delayed, could proceed.

The former president and French arms company Thales face corruption, racketeering, fraud and money laundering charges linked to the multibillion-rand arms deal.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said the NPA welcomed the judgment and was now focused on ensuring that the trial resumed in April.

The Jacob Zuma Foundation said they were planning on issuing a statement later today and were still busy deliberating.

Political Bureau

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