Lawyers ditch Zuma over fees - casting doubt over his court date

Jacob Zuma

Former president Jacob Zuma’s lawyer said on Wednesday that uncertainty over who is responsible for the costs of his defence against corruption charges will delay his prosecution - until the courts decide whether Zuma gets state funding or not.

Attorney Michael Hulley has confirmed that the services of the advocates who would have challenged the decision by prosecutions head Shaun Abrahams have been terminated.

But he warned that this cast doubt over whether Zuma would go on trial in November‚ which is when the state has said it would be ready to proceed with his prosecution.

“In the same way that the fees have stalled the review‚ I suppose it will stall all else until the courts have made a determination on the question of the entitlement to state aid‚” Hulley told SowetanLIVE.

In other words‚ Zuma will argue that his trial cannot go ahead until the High Court rules on applications by the Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters to challenge the continued state funding of his defence - and to force him‚ and his lawyers‚ to pay back the money already spent on fees.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has yet to indicate whether he will oppose those applications‚ but Zuma has indicated he will fight them.

It is unclear how he will fund this opposition‚ which will be crucial to how he would pay his future legal costs.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Luvuyo Mfaku has told SowetanLIVE that the state has not received any legal challenge from Zuma in relation to Abrahams’ decision that he should go on trial.

He said it would be up to Zuma’s legal representatives to explain why to the High Court‚ when he returns to face corruption charges next month‚ as “they are the ones who made an undertaking to file (the review)”.