The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) is set to hear former president Jacob Zuma’s latest legal challenge after it was ruled that he can’t get government funding for his legal defence in his corruption trial, Business Day has reported.
This comes after Zuma fired Daniel Mantsha as his attorney and appointed well-known lawyer Eric Mabuza from Mabuza Attorneys to represent him in his upcoming trial, which resumes next month.
The SCA informed Zuma’s lawyers on Tuesday that the former president would be allowed to argue his challenge after the High Court in Pretoria ruled that he was not entitled to continue to receive sponsorship from the government.
The government has already spent upwards of R16 million on the legal debacle, with the high court further ordering that Zuma should pay back the costs already incurred.
Zuma’s SCA papers maintain his long-standing position that he is entitled to legal funding from the state under the State Attorney Act, since he was supposedly performing his official duties in the course of committing the alleged crimes he has been accused of.
In March, Zuma’s bid to prevent going to trial suffered a setback after the SCA ruled he had no reasonable prospects of success. Zuma’s legal team had petitioned the court for the right to appeal against a decision preventing him from enjoying a permanent stay of prosecution on corruption charges in the multibillion-rand arms deal.
In November, Zuma’s application for leave to appeal the judgment that his corruption prosecution should go ahead had been dismissed with costs by the Pietermaritzburg High Court. Three judges found there was no compelling reason why Zuma should be granted leave to appeal.
The core of Zuma’s application was his long-time allegation that, due to an unreasonable delay in the commencement of the proceedings, it won’t be possible to receive a fair trial.
Over the weekend, however, Zuma through his foundation welcomed the opportunity his trial would “create for South Africans to get much-needed certainty about the bona fides of the state’s case against him as well as shed light on the much-needed certainty as to who exactly benefited from the alleged arms deal corruption”.
The JG Zuma Foundation said Zuma would still be using the services of Advocate Muzi Sikhakhane, who he had “briefed to assemble a multi-skilled legal team that will advise and assist former president Zuma in preparing for the biggest trial of his life”.
(Compiled by Molefe Seeletsa. Background reporting, Charles Cilliers)