DA leader Mmusi Maimane has questioned former president Jacob Zuma’s decision to appeal a ruling by the High Court in Pretoria that he repay the money spent on his legal costs.
The fees were incurred as far back as 2006, during Zuma’s criminal prosecution in the spy tapes matter.
The former president said on Sunday afternoon that if those who committed crimes during apartheid were not asked to cover their own legal costs, it was only fair that the current democratic government do the same for him.
“The state paid for their cases. Not just small amounts … very huge amounts. Paid by this very democratic state that we all fought to bring about. But the very same state is saying me, one among those who fought for this very democratic state, I must pay for myself.
“…Once the court has taken a decision, it has taken a decision. But all of us must listen properly to the case, and look at the evidence, and compare the evidence, perhaps to the judgment. But also, to look at the judgment and decide whether we are consistent in this country at applying the law,” he said.
His comments divided South Africans, who took to social media to voice their opinion on the matter.
The DA leader was first to comment on Zuma’s videos, asking if the former president was using “apartheid legislation and killers” to defend his case.
Baba, are you using apartheid legislation and killers to defend your criminal case?
— Mmusi Maimane (@MmusiMaimane) December 23, 2018
Those who disagreed with the former president said he seemed to have missed the point about those who committed crimes during apartheid.
Though what they did was eventually declared a crime against humanity by the UN, the difference was that they were acting on orders from the state, while Zuma was not acting on behalf of the state, they argued.
“But @PresJGZuma, the executive of the ttate @CyrilRamaphosa agreed to pay for you and the judiciary stopped him alleging that your conduct was not in furtherance of state policy but self seeking and private benefit as against apartheid then was state policy enforced by its officers,” argued EFF’s Godrich Gardee.
But @PresJGZuma The Executive of the State @CyrilRamaphosa agreed to pay for you & the judiciary stopped him alleging that your conduct was not in furtherance of state policy but self seeking & private benefit as against apartheid then was state policy enforced by its officers
— Godrich Gardee (@GardeeGodrich) December 23, 2018
Twitter user @WackyThot said the former president should not feel entitled simply because he is a freedom fighter.
“Yoh! The level of arrogance and entitlement is astounding. So ubaba feels entitled because he’s a freedom fighter!? Perhaps you should be judged harshly because we expect better and you’re accused of crimes that were not supposed to be committed by a ‘freedom fighter’,” they argued.
There were those who said the former president was right in appealing the High Court ruling.
@MbuleloDiba said:”Zuma is raising a valid point. The state paid legal fees of many employees from the apartheid government who killed during apartheid. Our very own government paid for their legal fees. Law must be applied consistently irrespective of who is involved.”
For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.