Former president Jacob Zuma’s Friday court appearance is expected to be quick, as he is likely to seek a postponement after head of prosecutions Advocate Shaun Abrahams declined his request for a temporary stay of prosecution.
Speaking to the African News Agency (ANA) on Tuesday, National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Luvuyo Mfaku said Zuma’s legal team had made the request for a stay “while they are sorting out the issue of legal representation and financial aid”.
“The NDPP [National Director of Public Prosecutions] wrote to them and said he cannot accede to their request, and the matter will proceed. He said any matters will be ventilated in court,” said Mfaku.
He said it was likely, although he did not want to speculate on Zuma’s legal strategy, that “they would request a postponement” on Friday at the Durban High Court.
He clarified that Zuma had not asked for a permanent stay of prosecution, which Mfaku said could only be requested “before a court and a judge to adjudicate”.
“The letter [sent from Zuma’s legal team] just said ‘stay’. The Criminal Procedures Act does not provide for a [permanent] stay. The NPA can only either withdraw or stop proceedings,” said Mfaku.
He said that although it had been widely anticipated, Zuma had not asked for a review of the decision to prosecute him.
“We have not received any papers for the review.”
Zuma faces one count of racketeering, two counts of corruption, one count of money laundering and 12 counts of fraud.
The former president is accused of illicitly pocketing a total of R4 072 499.85 from 783 payments handled by Schabir Shaik, a businessman who acted as his financial adviser at the time of the alleged transactions.
The source of the money was allegedly a series of bribes from French arms maker Thales in relation to South African’s controversial 1999 arms deal.
At the time of the payments, Zuma was first the KwaZulu-Natal MEC of economic development and, after 1999, the deputy president of South Africa.
Zuma has continued to maintain he is innocent.
Former NDPP head Mokotedi Mpshe first withdrew the charges in 2009, paving the way for Zuma to become state president a month later.
The official opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, has, since 2009, fought to have the charges reinstated.
On Monday, at a press conference held by Zuma backers, Bishop Vusi Dube, founder of the eThekwini Community Church International, said several churches that were part of the National Interfaith Churches of South Africa (NICSA) were supporting Zuma spiritually, but not financially.
Other groups supporting Zuma include representatives of the Commission for Religious Affairs (CRA), Black First Land First (BLF), Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) and National Funeral Practitioners Association of South Africa.
They believe Zuma is being “persecuted” for working against an alleged Western capitalist agenda and for being pro-poor. They further contend the charges Zuma faces are politically-motivated, making it impossible for him to have a fair trial.
These groups are expected to be at the court on Friday along with hundreds of other supporters.