Arrest would prejudice Zuma, Mpofu tells high court
Lawyer argues rescission application stands good chance of success
Former president Jacob Zuma’s legal counsel has argued before the Pietermaritzburg high court that Zuma would be prejudiced if he were to be arrested on Wednesday while he still stood a chance of successfully having his 15-month sentence rescinded.
Zuma approached the high court to interdict his imminent arrest after he refused to hand himself over to the police to be directed to a prison where he would start serving the sentence handed down by the Constitutional Court last week for contempt of court.
Zuma’s lawyer advocate Dali Mpofu SC told the court that the police had already found it necessary to push for his arrest to be put in abeyance, pending his application before the apex court. The matter will be heard on Monday.
Mpofu said the ruling on the application could take months before it is delivered and that this would lead to Zuma being prejudiced and his rights violated if he were to languish in jail before the matter was concluded.
“What the court is now being asked to do is that for all that period between now and the hearing and between the hearing and the judgment months down the line, the applicant must be sitting in jail without ever sitting in any trial and only thereafter if the judgment is set aside then he must be released. What is that?” Mpofu asked.
Zuma was found in contempt of court after he refused to abide by the ConCourt order that he obeys the summonses of the Zondo commission, which requested him to attend its proceedings and testify on state capture allegations.
Zuma also refused to participate in the commission’s successful application for him to be charged with contempt.
Mpofu, however, argued before judge Bhekisisa Mnguni that the high court still had jurisdiction to rule on the application to interdict the arrest despite the arrest order having being issued by the highest court in the land, whose decisions could not be overturned by lower courts.
He said granting the interdict would not constitute a final determination of the matter, which would be done by the ConCourt.
“Its effect is to freeze the position until the ConCourt decide where the right lies at which point it [the interdict] ceases to operate. It is aimed at ensuring that as far as it is reasonably possible, that the party who is ultimately successful will receive adequate and effective relief,” Mpofu said.
The commission is opposing the interdict application with the Helen Suzman Foundation and AfriForum applying to join the proceedings as friends of the court.
Mpofu argued that the commission was vindictive and that it had no business arguing for Zuma’s arrest before the matter was finally settled “unless there is some fear that he might fly away or he is going to interfere with their rights in one way or another”.
“A position that is based purely on vindictiveness and desire to see Zuma punished today or tomorrow is inappropriate in the present circumstance,” he said.
He highlighted that the SA Police Service had found it necessary not to oppose the interdict.
Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi SC is currently arguing for the commission.