Whether former president Jacob Zuma was corrupt or not, he had been treated improperly due to alleged bias and political influence and in the process his human dignity was at stake.
That was according to Zuma’s advocate Muzi Sikhakhane in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.
Sikhakhane had planned to present his opening argument in his home language, isiZulu, in Zuma’s application for a permanent stay of prosecution. He complained he had been prohibited from doing so when he got to the courtroom yesterday morning.
“I was refused the right to speak my language, I feel insulted,” Sikhakhane said.
But if he was hoping to embarrass the judges, he was out of luck because, in September 2017, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng declared English to be the language of record so presiding officers would have a common language.
Sikhakhane pleaded with the court that Zuma had “no other place to tell this story” and that the judges needed to play their role of custodians of the constitution without “any regard to political whims”.
He mentioned cases that would be relevant to Zuma’s application for a stay of prosecution, and acknowledged it was a very “difficult remedy”.
“But let me tell you what actually underpins the philosophy that we think the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) subscribes to in the manner in which they have dealt with Mr Zuma. I call it the mob justice.
“I’m not desperate to win this case. I’m desperate to hear how organs of state and myself and everyone must behave between now and the future of this constitution,” Sikhakhane said.
Zuma turned on the charm again yesterday when he embraced his supporters at the court to pledge their allegiance like long-time family friends.
He was joined by scores of supporters who filled the gallery and was seen shaking hands and smiling with his crowd of supporters in the court’s lobby in between breaks, despite being well guarded by his private security.
In the crowd was Black First Land First leader Andile Mngxitama and Zuma’s son Duduzane, who is embroiled in his own legal battle facing charges of culpable homicide and reckless and negligent driving after he slammed his Porsche into a taxi in 2014, killing a woman and injuring three others.
Mngxitama said his party has supported the former president since 2016.
“We have believed since then that he is being attacked through the court system because of his programme called radical economic transformation, which is a serious threat to the interest of white monopoly capital,” Mngxitama said. “The main attack on Zuma is to silence and intimidate radical economic transformation forces through the court system.”
Contrary to what analysts had said, Mngxitama said Zuma was not responsible for the delays in his case and it was instead the NPA’s fault.
“How many times has this case been dismissed? It is only being brought back now because the state is being run by the pro-white monopoly capital faction of President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“This is a political battle and has nothing to do with fighting corruption.”
Zuma’s court case was postponed to October 15, while the application for the permanent stay of prosecution will continue until Friday.
The case, which started in 2003, has been going on for over 15 years.