You should have known the state was paying Zuma’s legal fees‚ his lawyer tells DA and EFF

Jacob Zuma.
Jacob Zuma.

The Economic Freedom Fighters should have known that the state was paying Jacob Zuma's legal fees‚ the former president’s lawyer argued on Tuesday.

"It's astonishing for them to deny that Zuma's legal costs were covered by the state.

“The deponent [Julius Malema] must have known that the state is assisting Mr Zuma to fight his legal battles‚" argued Thabani Masuku SC in front of a full bench in the High Court in Pretoria.

He was stating Zuma's case in an application brought by the Democratic Alliance (DA)‚ in which the party seeks a review of the presidency's decision to pay Zuma’s legal fees in criminal charges against him.

According to the DA‚ the state has already spent over R15m on Zuma's legal fees.

Zuma faces 18 criminal charges including for fraud‚ racketeering‚ and money laundering – charges that were recently reinstated. Masuku said the court should dismiss the application because of "undue" delay from the DA's side.

He argued that the party had failed to stick to the 180-day period during which to litigate and should have brought the application as early as 2008.

"It is clear that the DA knew that the legal costs for Mr Zuma were paid by the State as far back as 12 September 2008‚" Masuku argued.

"The unreasonable delay and the prejudice that arises from the litigant bringing a case 14 years later is evident.

"It's not just Zuma who will suffer [as a result of the litigation]. The state attorney would have been acting unlawfully. Someone in the state attorney must account‚ according to the EFF‚ for the irregularities.

"What we have here is a situation where the state attorney‚ Mr [Michael] Hulley [Zuma’s lawyer at the time] and Mr Zuma must give a full account of happened 14 years ago‚” he added.

Masuku argued that the DA ought to have known that the former president's legal fees would be paid by the state.

Arguments will continue on Wednesday.

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