Jacob Zuma will know on Friday if his corruption case will finally go ahead

10 October 2019 - 14:21
Jacob Zuma.
Image: REUTERS/Rogan Ward Jacob Zuma Jacob Zuma.

Former president Jacob Zuma will know the outcome of his application for a permanent stay of prosecution on Friday.

The Pietermaritzburg high court is expected to deliver its ruling in the civil matter at 9.30am.

If judges Bhekisisa Mnguni, Thoba Poyo-Dlwati and Ester Steyn rule in Zuma's favour, he will still need to appear on Tuesday for the trial court to formally validate the judgment.

Zuma's legal team has been relying on the National Prosecuting Authority's 15-year delay to prosecute and political interference to secure a permanent stay of prosecution.

During the four-day hearing in May, his legal team pulled out what it believed was a trump card - an exceptional and extraordinary circumstance created by the NPA.

Acknowledging that the delay in bringing Zuma to court was not enough to secure a permanent stay of prosecution, his lawyer, advocate Muzi Sikhakhane, explained that an extraordinary circumstance, which must be taken into account, did in fact exist.

He said it was exceptional and extraordinary for an organ of state "as powerful as the NPA" to discuss a prosecution with political players.

"It is spectacular," Sikhakhane said.

He was referring to what was revealed by the so-called spy tapes, which are recordings of phone conversations between national director of public prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka and former Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy discussing the timing for prosecuting Zuma in order to boost the chances of Thabo Mbeki winning re-election.

Sikhakhane then argued in favour of introducing a letter written by former prosecutions boss Shaun Abrahams which Zuma believes would help him avoid facing 16 charges that include fraud‚ corruption and racketeering.

Sikhakhane told the court that the letter spoke of bribes, Mbeki and ex-justice minister Penuell Maduna.

He argued that the state could not deny that there was political interference when as late as March 2018, Abrahams was asking the Hawks to investigate claims made by former Thales lawyer Ajay Sooklal that Mbeki had allegedly instructed Maduna to drop the charges. Sooklal claimed that Maduna was allegedly paid €50,000 for his part in dropping the charges.

NPA senior counsel Wim Trengove argued that the letter had nothing to do with Zuma's case and therefore should not be introduced in his bid to escape facing corruption charges.

Thales is accused of agreeing to pay Zuma a yearly R500,000 bribe for protection from an investigation into the controversial multibillion-rand arms deal. The alleged bribe was facilitated by Zuma’s former financial adviser‚ Schabir Shaik.

Trengove accused Zuma's legal team of obtaining the letter unlawfully as the document was privileged.  

Trengove told the court that it must have been leaked from the NPA or Hawks and asked the court not to allow Zuma's legal team to submit the letter.

The Pietermaritzburg high court will deliver its ruling on the admissibility of the letter on Friday.

Zuma's legal team were unavailable to confirm whether Zuma would attend the legal proceedings.

If the judges rule against Zuma, the trial is expected to go ahead on Tuesday unless Zuma's team asks for a postponement.