Jacob Zuma is now set to petition the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) following yesterday’s dismissal by the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg of his application for a permanent stay of execution arising from racketeering, fraud, corruption and money laundering charges.
Zuma is facing charges, along with French arms manufacturer Thales, on one count of racketeering, 12 of fraud, four of corruption and one of money laundering in the wake of the reinstatement of the multibillion-rand arms deal case.
In a summary judgment which took less than five minutes, judges Jerome Mnguni, Esther Steyn and Thoba Poyo-Dlwati found Zuma’s argument not compelling, dismissing his and Thales’ applications with costs.
Turning to an apology tendered by Zuma’s senior counsel, Muzi Sikhakhane, for what he considered to be an attack on the court contained in Zuma’s notice of application for leave to appeal, the judgment was scathing.
“Without diverting our focus from the issues in this application, we deem it necessary to voice our displeasure on the disrespectful manner in which this court was addressed in Mr Zuma’s notice of application for leave to appeal.
“This, we do, despite Mr Sikhakhane’s apology as we do not deem it sufficient in the circumstances of this case.
“We do not suggest that the courts must not be criticised … but we are of the view that such comments must be respectful and grounded on the judgments as they can have a wider impact than merely hurting the judges’ feelings or impugn their reputation,” said the bench, which had been described as “hostile”.
Legal expert Paul Hoffman, director of the Institute for Accountability in Southern Africa, said Zuma may go to the SCA “to buy time”.
“It was to be anticipated that judges would take the line that there was no reasonable chance of him presenting a compelling legal argument.”
Slamming remarks made against the bench, Hoffman said: “Our judges are impartial and independent. He should have applied for the recusal of the judges if he had any misgivings. It sounds like sour grapes to me.”