Acting Judge Mike Hellens on Wednesday asked counsel for both parties to submit heads of argument to him by 2pm on Thursday, arguing whether he was sitting as an electoral court, the high court, or both. This would determine what he could order.
The African National Congress took the Democratic Alliance to court over 1.5 million smses it had sent to prospective Gauteng voters accusing Zuma of stealing public money to build his private home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal.
The sms stated: “The Nkandla report shows how Zuma stole your money to build his R246m home. Vote DA on 7 May to beat corruption. Together for change.”
On Wednesday, Gcina Malindi SC, for the ANC, told the court the party wanted the DA to retract the sms, stop sending it and apologise, or be fined up to R200,000. Malindi argued the sms was in contravention of the Electoral Act and Code of Conduct.
Ismail Jamie SC, for the Democratic Alliance, argued that his client had not stated that the Public Protector’s report had said Zuma had stolen taxpayers’ money. He said it “showed” he had stolen public funds to build his Nkandla home.
A reasonable person could conclude from the Public Protector’s report that the president stole from the public, he said during argument.
Last month, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found Zuma and his family had unduly benefited from security upgrades to his Nkandla home.
The ANC argued that Madonsela never said in her report that Zuma had stolen or concluded in her report, titled “Secure in Comfort”, that he stole taxpayers’ money.