Jacob Zuma graft case postponed to clear up funding issues
Michael Hulley still plans to apply for a review of the decision to charge Zuma
The graft case against former president Jacob Zuma has been postponed to July 27 and will be moved to the High Court in Pietermaritzburg.
Zuma's lawyer, Michael Hulley, told the court he should have more clarity on his client's funding issues by that court date.
He would also still be lodging an application to review the National Director of Public Prosecution's decision to charge him, which was delayed because of lack of funding.
The High Court in Durban heard on Friday that the Presidency had not responded to a request from Zuma’s lawyers on whether the state will continue to pay his legal fees.
Hulley said a letter was sent to the director-general in the Presidency on May 24. However, there had been no response.
Hulley represented Zuma at his second appearance on fraud and corruption charges, as his preferred advocates‚ Kemp J Kemp and Hoosen Gani‚ are believed not to have obtained clearance from the Presidency to represent the former president.
Hulley hoped that by the next court appearance‚ the funding issue would be resolved so there would be clarity on the way forward.
An application brought by the DA opposing the state paying Zuma’s legal fees is expected to go ahead only next year. In the meantime the Presidency has said it will uphold the court’s decision.
Hulley told the High Court in Durban on Friday that he was unsure whether that meant that the status quo was still in place. He said Zuma still planned to launch an application to review the decision to prosecute him.
Prosecutor Billy Downer consented to the adjournment to allow the defence to “get its house in order” but told the court it was disappointing that both defence teams did not meet expectations.
He explained that an adjournment granted in April until June 8 was to allow Zuma and co-accused Thales to launch their applications for a stay of prosecution. However‚ that was not done.
While Zuma failed to launch his application‚ Thales lawyers submitted their papers to the state only two days ago‚ leaving the prosecution little time to consider them.
“The state is ready to proceed but the defence’s house is not in order‚” Downer said.
He mentioned November 12 as a possible trial date. However‚ it is highly unlikely that it will go ahead on that date.
Judge Mjabuliseni Madondo adjourned the matter until next month. It will take place in Pietermaritzburg as the Durban High Court is being renovated.
After the proceedings‚ Zuma appeared in high spirits and greeted his supporters in court‚ including ANC North West chairman Supra Mahumapelo‚ former SABC chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng and KwaZulu-Natal ANC chairman Sihle Zikalala. He even patted Downer on the back before exiting the court.
Zuma is charged with 16 counts that include fraud‚ corruption and racketeering. The charges relate to 783 payments he allegedly received as a bribe to protect French arms company Thales from an investigation into the controversial multi-billion rand arms deal. The alleged bribe was facilitated by Zuma’s former financial adviser‚ Schabir Shaik.
During the brief proceedings Zuma’s co-accused‚ Thales representative Christine Guerrier‚ sat grimly in the dock‚ looking straight ahead and not engaging Zuma.