A lawyer whose firm is at the centre of a public protector probe into the alleged monopolisation of lucrative litigation outsourced by the state attorney’s office, was roped in to assist in the prosecution of former president Jacob Zuma. Asif Essa, the former president of the KwaZulu-Natal Law Society and director of law firm Cajee Setsubi Chetty, appeared with a team of heavyweight prosecutors at Zuma’s last court appearance in November “in case anyone needed photocopies”. While the National Prosecuting Authority said Essa had been “standing in” for the state attorney, three sources in the Pietermaritzburg legal fraternity described Essa’s presence as “bizarre”. The move by the state to enlist the services of a private lawyer for a criminal trial was unheard of, said the lawyers, who did not want to be named. “This is a criminal matter and does not require a correspondent attorney. It is a mystery how he came to be involved.” Zuma faces graft charges relating to his role in the con...

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