However, the Jacob Zuma Foundation released a statement on Sunday, saying they doubt the trial will go ahead.
“While we as the Foundation doubt the bona fides or readiness of the state to ever run this case, we hope our judiciary will not tolerate any further postponement beyond this date. While these postponements carry on President Zuma’s rights to be continuously violated and the narrative that he is guilty continues as the NPA’s propaganda. This is indeed unfortunate.”
The foundation hopes there be no more postponements and that the judiciary not “tolerate any further abuse of the process”.
“We will continue to ask the judiciary to strike this case off until the State is really ready rather than to parade President Zuma as a criminal. The taxpayer’s purse is wasted in the process.”
Zuma and co-accused French arms company, Thales, are linked in the matter.
They face charges of fraud, corruption, money laundering and racketeering linked to the 1999 multi-billion rand ‘Arms Deal’.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) responded to the Zuma’s foundation statement, clarifying that the trial date of 23 February was pending the challenge of the racketeering charges against Thales, who wanted the charges dropped.
Spokesperson Sipho Ngwena said: “When Thales lost it’s challenge and decided not to appeal, it paved the way for the trial to proceed in earnest.
“This Tuesday, February 23 was never a trial date but for the parties to resolve outstanding pre-trial management issues and agree on a trial date, among other housekeeping issues. The state is ready to start the trial and has indicated it’s earliest preferred date for trial and Thales has done the same – the actual date of trial will be determined by the court taking into account its court roll – and availability of the state and the two defence teams.”
Ngwena said it is “disingenuous” that the trial was set for the 23rd as it was a provisional date set down by the court.
In the last postponement, senior State advocate Billy Downer stood before Judge Nompumelelo Radebe in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg, to request a consent order for the postponement.
The parties – Zuma, French arms company Thales and the State – agreed to the postponement.
Among the other issues that needed clarity were further particulars that Thales requested and international travel for some of the company’s representatives. Including Thales’ review application to have the racketeering charges thrown out, were given as reasons for the postponement.
(Compiled by Sandisiwe Mbhele).