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Zuma’s corruption trial postponed again

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The high court has granted former president Jacob Zuma’s application to adjourn his arms deal trial until next month, to allow the Supreme Court of Appeal President Mandisa Maya to decide on his reconsideration application.

Former president Jacob Zuma in the Pietermaritzburg High Court during a previous appearance. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)

PIETERMARITZBURG High Court Judge Piet Koen has granted former president Jacob Zuma’s application to adjourn his arms deal trial until next month, to allow the Supreme Court of Appeal President Mandisa Maya to decide on his reconsideration application.

Koen announced that May 17, 2022 would be pencilled in as a holding date for the continuation of the case, and if the reconsideration application at the SCA was not finalised by then, the trial will reconvene so another date can be fixed.

In reading the order, Koen said the Superior Courts Act limited his discretion to refuse Zuma’s postponement application as it amounted to an application for leave to appeal. “The appeal process must be allowed to run its course,” Koen said.

Koen further stated that he could not find that Zuma’s litigation amounted to an abuse of court processes, adding that the State’s argument that Zuma was embarking on a Stalingrad approach in his litigation would require further evidence.

Outside court, the spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority, Mthunzi Mhaga, told journalists the NPA was disappointed that the trial could not resume as planned, as the State was ready to proceed.

However, Mhaga added that the NPA did accept the ruling of the court.

“We are hoping that Justice Maya would have resolved the application by 17 May. We have been waiting and it has been quite an agonising and protracted process for some 17 years. We can only hope that finally the matter will resume once all processes are concluded,” Mhaga said.

He added that the State’s main focus was to exhaust all avenues to ensure that the trial continued.

Mhaga said that the State also hoped Zuma had recovered by then so that he may attend court in person.

Spokesperson for the Jacob Zuma Foundation, Mzwanele Manyi told journalists outside court that Zuma was in hospital and doctors were in the process of running a number of tests.

Zuma, whose corruption trial was meant to start on Monday, called in sick after he failed to appear in court in person. His legal representative, Dali Mpofu, told the court that there had been a “medical emergency” and Zuma’s doctors had advised him against travelling to court.

Mpofu has argued for the corruption case against Zuma to be postponed indefinitely, so that the former president could pursue his various appeals, including the request to the SCA President Justice Maya to reconsider his petition to have advocate Billy Downer recused as the chief prosecutor of his arms deal corruption case.

Zuma has accused Downer of being biased against him and of having acted unlawfully on several occasions while handling confidential information regarding the case.

Downer in turn has argued that the courts were being abused by Zuma. He said that Monday’s trial date already came after nearly two decades of delays. Downer further argued that Zuma’s application for an indefinite adjournment was part of his continued Stalingrad tactics and attempts to avoid trial.

Political Bureau

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