'Prison does not scare me, I have spent time in jail'

LEADERSHIP SUPPORT: ANC president Jacob Zuma outside the Pietermaritzburg high court. He is flanked by ANC and Cosatu leadership. Pic. Mhlaba Memela. © Sowetan.
LEADERSHIP SUPPORT: ANC president Jacob Zuma outside the Pietermaritzburg high court. He is flanked by ANC and Cosatu leadership. Pic. Mhlaba Memela. © Sowetan.

Mhlaba Memela and Mary Papaya

Mhlaba Memela and Mary Papaya

ANC president Jacob Zuma says he is not afraid of spending time in jail.

"Prison does not scare me. I have previously spent time in jail." Zuma said outside the Pietermaritzburg high court yesterday.

He was addressing supporters after the two-day hearing into his application to have the corruption charges against him thrown out of court.

Sitting in trees, hanging over fences and standing in the dusty field outside court, Zuma supporters carried posters that read: "Hands off Zuma", "Zuma for president" and "Zuma innocent".

The ANC president received thunderous applause when he launched a scathing attack on political analysts who kept accusing him of delaying the legal process.

"I end up asking myself where these intellectuals were when we were fighting for our democracy, Constitution and judiciary. They can send me to jail although I'm innocent. I'm not scared, I will serve my time. Previously, I was arrested and served 10 years for being innocent.

"I should not be threatened about jail. I will serve my time if I am sent to jail. I am not scared."

Speaking in isiZulu, Zuma said he felt that his rights had been infringed upon.

"There are those people who are suggesting that I'm using delaying tactics on the matter while all I'm doing is exercise my constitutional rights. We live in a constitutional democracy; and when I follow that route, I'm accused of delaying tactics."

Zuma said he was first charged by the state when there was no evidence against him. He warned that people should not rush for the case to be heard in court.

"I will call the witnesses until the truth comes out," he said.

Zuma said he remained positive that the whole process would not affect his position as president of the ANC and possibly of the country "because the constitutional democracy of the country dictated that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty".

He added that he understood the Constitution.

Earlier, Judge Chris Nicholson announced that he would rule on Zuma's application on September 12.

The judge also said that the provisional date for Zuma to stand trial was December 8, but that the dates for trial would be deliberated by all stakeholders on August 15.

He also reserved judgment in the friend of the court's application by the Society for the Protection of our Constitution which submitted that Zuma's constitutional rights had been infringed upon.

State advocate Wim Trengove SC said there was nothing wrong in the decision to re-charge Zuma.

He argued that the decision by National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) acting head Mokotedi Mpshe to charge Zuma last year should be viewed independently from the move to charge him in 2005.

"The current decision was a decision that was taken on a clean slate," Trengove said.

Zuma's defence team, led by Advocate Kemp J Kemp SC, contended that when the state decided to recharge Zuma they did not offer him the opportunity to make representations.

Kemp argued that this was in contravention of Section 179(5)(d) of the Constitution.

Zuma faces a charge of racketeering, four charges of corruption, a charge of money laundering and 12 counts of fraud.