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Zuma suffers another heavy court loss

Isaac Mahlangu Senior reporter
Former president Jacob Zuma
Former president Jacob Zuma
Image: Thuli Dlamini

Former president Jacob Zuma suffered another court blow when the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein dismissed his appeal against a judgment which ruled that the state is not liable to cover his legal costs.

The high court in Pretoria had found in December 2018 that the state was not liable for Zuma's legal costs which have been incurred in his personal capacity and ordered that he pay back the money.

Deputy judge president Aubrey Ledwaba who delivered the judgment in the Pretoria High Court had found that the decisions of former president Thabo Mbeki and later Cyril Ramaphosa for the state to pay for Zuma’s legal fees were unlawful and illegal.

Zuma appealed the matter which was opposed by the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters.

The SCA on Tuesday dismissed Zuma's appeal with costs on a punitive scale.

Zuma had argued in the SCA that the high court had given more weight to the political interests of the political parties involved than advancing his constitutional rights.

He had also argued that the court would have made a different finding had it been acting fairly and without bias. Zuma also felt that the high court in having accepted that he should approach the Legal Aid Board if he was not able to afford private legal representation had demonstrated further evidence of bias against him.

"There is nothing on the record to sustain the inference that the presiding judges in this matter nor at a more generalised level in other matters involving Mr Zuma were biased or that they were not open-minded, impartial or fair," the judgment stated.

It further stated: "The allegations were made with a reckless disregard for the truth and persisted in during argument. They only ought to have not been made at all."

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