After former president Jacob Zuma on Wednesday evening sent Twitter into a frenzy by tweeting only a picture of himself aiming a rifle with a scope balanced on his quadbike at Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal, one of his children has explained the photo is old.
Many had initially taken the photo as evidence that Zuma’s legal team was lying about his current medical condition.
His lawyers and others insisted on Tuesday that Zuma is seriously ill and receiving treatment in Cuba.
The photo was not captioned, leaving many to draw their own conclusions about its meaning.
Edward Zuma, however, revealed in an eNCA interview on Thursday morning that the picture was taken two years ago. He said he had bought his father the gun to shoot birds.
— Jacob G Zuma (@PresJGZuma) February 5, 2020
Zuma has become known for some of his cryptic messages and photos on Twitter. His account is largely inactive.
A warrant of arrest was issued by the high court yesterday against Zuma, but was stayed until May 6, when his arms deal corruption trial is set to resume.
The court accepted that Zuma “may well be ill”, but further evidence on his condition is now required.
The NPA argued it never received a response from Zuma’s legal team after asking for more specifics about his illness. It also wants access to his medical records to validate his illness claims.
“We were informed that he would be attending to medical treatment abroad from 23 January till mid March 2020,” argued the NPA.
State Prosecutor Billy Downer said it was disappointing that Zuma was not in court for unclear medical reasons. Zuma’s lawyer Dan Mantsha claimed Zuma was genuinely sick, however.
Mantsha had submitted a sick note from a military hospital but Judge Dhaya Pillay questioned this, as the note had allegedly been altered. She asked Mantsha to help her understand it, but that was evidently unsuccessful.
Images started started circulating on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon claiming to be the actual sick note Zuma’s lawyers had provided to the court.
Last year Zuma went to Cuba for medical treatment for an unspecified condition, but reports claimed it was linked to “poisoning”.
Numerous sources close to Zuma said at the time he either didn’t trust South African doctors or thought they could not deal adequately with poisonings. They maintained Zuma had gone to Cuba to a “secret hospital”, which puzzled many commentators.
He was also reportedly struggling with his memory.
The Citizen reached out to a source close to Zuma, who confirmed the 77-year-old president was “very ill” in Cuba.
Edward Zuma further alleged on Thursday that Pillay is “biased” against his father because she is “good friends” with Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and ANC national executive committee member Derek Hanekom and their families.
On Wednesday, Edward Zuma issued a statement saying he was disgusted and angered by the judgment on Tuesday.
“It was a decision taken out of hatred for the man, it’s being vindictive, vicious and very much abuse of the judiciary for personal reasons (sic). This they do forgetting that the old wounds have not healed and we are gradually getting tired of them abusing the system. Our patience is running out as we can see what is happening. However, we don’t want to be tested as people,” Edward said.
On Thursday, Edward said he was not attacking Pillay, but merely wanted to point out her “proximity” to people who are “enemies” of the former president.
“This leaves much to be desired, you know?”
Edward said Pillay was close to the Gordhan and Hanekom families and “many other people”.
Both Gordhan and Hanekom have been fervent critics of Zuma, who is in the midst of a fraud and corruption trial and who is being implicated in state capture.
“How close they are, I could never be able to judge on that one, but the fact that they are able to go out in public and post that they are having lunch and dinner with the Gordhan and blah blah blah…” Edward told eNCA.
Asked if he has proof of this, Edward said he had more than proof. “Proof is an understatement – we have evidence to that effect. These are family friends who’ve known each other for years.”
Edward questioned how it was possible to be close friends and not discuss “some issues” – referring to his father’s court case.
“There are people in the ANC who are hellbent to destroy the legacy of the former president.”
Xoli Mngambi then asked Edward who these people were. “Clearly one of them has shown himself by saying ‘I did not do this when the ANC told me to do this’…”
“That still doesn’t give us a name,” Mngambi says.
“It’s Hanekom,” Edward then said.
Hanekom told News24 on Thursday he did not know Pillay personally.
“I saw her in the High Court in Durban for the first time in my life when she presided over the defamation case,” Hanekom said via WhatsApp.
Last year, Hanekom successfully sued the former president for calling him a “known enemy agent” on Twitter.
Gordhan’s spokesperson could not be reached for comment.
(Compiled by Charles Cilliers. Additional reporting, News24 Wire)