Jacob Zuma appeal matter goes ahead in Pietermaritzburg without him

Lawyers for Jacob Zuma and Thales, advocates Muzi Sikhakhane, Daniel Mantsha and Anton Katz.
Lawyers for Jacob Zuma and Thales, advocates Muzi Sikhakhane, Daniel Mantsha and Anton Katz.
Image: SANDILE NDLOVU

Former president Jacob Zuma was a no-show in the Pietermaritzburg high court on Friday where he and French arms company Thales are appealing the decision to dismiss their application for a permanent stay of prosecution.

Advocate Muzi Sikhakhane argued on Friday that in rejecting Zuma's bid for a permanent stay of prosecution, three KwaZulu-Natal judges had ignored “the prejudicial conduct of the National Prosecuting Authority” towards him.

This is one of the points his legal team raised before judges James Mnguni, Esther Steyn and Thoba Poyo-Dlwati in Zuma’s bid to be granted leave to appeal their October ruling in the supreme court of appeal.

They didn't present any new argument on the merits of the matter but challenged the court’s findings, including that the blame for delay in Zuma’s trial had to be shared between Zuma and his legal team and the National Prosecuting Authority.

They say another court may agree with Zuma’s assertions that he should have faced trial in 2003, along with his benefactor Schabir Shaik.

Instead, Shaik’s trial was used as a “dry run” - a violation of the law and the constitution.

The delay had also “prejudiced Mr Zuma and violated his constitutionally guaranteed rights”.

The NPA is opposing the granting of leave to appeal, saying it would have no prospects of success.

It has also asked for a punitive costs order against Zuma who claimed that a full bench of the high court had no jurisdiction to conduct “a criminal trial”.

This was an irregularity, he said.

However, the NPA said, this issue had been raised in May this year and dispensed with during meetings with judge Mnguni who advised there was “nothing sinister” about it.

Zuma’s lawyer did not persist with the complaint in argument at the hearing, but was now raising it as a leg of his leave-to-appeal application.

 The NPA said in its papers: “Mr Zuma participated in the hearing before the full bench from May 20 to 24 2019 without demur.

“The objection is based on the incorrect premise that Mr Zuma’s trial has started. It has not. It will only start when he is called upon to plead and when he does so.

“Zuma’s notice of application for leave to appeal is regrettably marred by disrespectful and intemperate language and allegations directed at the full bench which do not belong in a proper court process.

“We respectfully submit that, as a mark of its displeasure, this court should order Mr Zuma to pay the costs of this application on the attorney-and-client scale, regardless of the outcome.”

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