Zuma not entitled to have legal costs paid by the state - DA

Former President Jacob Zuma.
Former President Jacob Zuma.
Image: FELIX DLANGAMANDLA

The DA legal representative has argued in court that former president Jacob Zuma was not entitled to have his legal fees on the arms deal criminal prosecution paid by the state because the alleged criminality took place while he was not "furthering any government interest".

Advocate Sean Rosenberg (SC) argued that the State Attorney Act was not adhered to when the government foot the bill for Zuma's legal fees in matters which had no government interest.

The DA launched a high court application in an effort to recover taxpayers' money used in footing Zuma's legal costs for his defence in the arms deal saga and the subsequent spy tapes matter.

The opposition wants the court to declare that the state is not liable for Zuma's legal costs which had been incurred in his personal capacity in criminal prosecutions against him by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). Rosenberg cited to the full bench of the high court that there's two other instances in which Zuma's legal costs were settled although there was no approval by the director-general in the presidency.

One related to legal costs relating to the former president's lawyers attending to Zuma responding to questions from the NPA relating to the arms deal prosecution. Another instance related to Zuma's lawyers "holding a watching brief" during the trial of his former financial advisor Schabir Shaik.

"It appears to be unlawful that funding took place where no final decision was made," Rosenberg told the court.

Former president Thabo Mbeki and the office of the state attorney apparently committed to paying Zuma’s legal fees back in 2005. The matter is under way.

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