DEFIANT: Former president Jacob Zuma dances before addressing supporters outside the high court in Durban. Picture: Reuters/Rogan Ward
DURBAN - WHILE he may be scrambling for money to pay his legal fees, former president Jacob Zuma was defiant outside the Durban High Court on Friday after appearing on 16 charges related to corruption, racketeering, money laundering and fraud.

Zuma, who sang and danced in front of a crowd of loyal supporters, warned that he would spill the beans on those who continued to smear his name in public.

He made similar threats on Wednesday night at the Durban City Hall for the first time. After his brief court appearance, he told hundreds of his supporters that he also “knew things about the people” who were talking about him.

“I want to warn all of them, all of them. In the past few years, they have dragged my name through the mud. Some of them say Zuma is corrupt but they can’t tell me what I have done that makes me corrupt. I know some of them who say this about me, they are also corrupt - I will spill the beans on them.”

Meanwhile, who will be paying for Zuma’s legal fees came under the spotlight during his brief appearance in the high court.

State advocate Billy Downer said they were ready to proceed to trial but Zuma’s team was not. The State indicated it was ready to start the trial in November this year.

Downer told Deputy Judge President Mjabuliseni Madondo that after a discussion with Zuma’s lawyer, Michael Hulley, they agreed the time between Friday and Zuma’s next court appearance was sufficient for Hulley to gain clarity on his legal fees.

Hulley said they wrote to the Presidency on May 24 but had since not heard back.

Madondo adjourned the matter to July 27 but it will be heard at the Pietermaritzburg High Court, where the courts are bigger and better able to deal with a high-profile case while the Durban courts undergo renovations.

This was Zuma’s second court appearance at the Durban High Court and the 16 charges relate to his alleged involvement in the controversial arms deal. But Zuma insists they are politically motivated.

While the march through town by supporters was led by church leaders, seated among the VVIPs in the courtroom supporting Zuma were Sihle Zikalala, Des van Rooyen, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, Meshack Radebe and Supra Mahumapelo. Other people clad in ANC regalia sat in seats marked for family.

This week, the KZN Church Leaders Group issued a media statement, distancing the city’s church leadership from church leaders who supported Zuma.

The statement said: “Most South Africans are by now well aware of the state capture which occurred during the presidency of former president Jacob Zuma.

“What they may not be aware of is the fact that during the same period, a concerted effort was made to capture the church.”

It detailed that selected church leaders were invited to join a state-sponsored Council of Religious Leaders at both national and provincial level, while church leaders were also invited to enter into partnership with the government to tackle major social issues.

“Significantly, not one of the leaders of the mainline churches was invited to the discussions that preceded the formation of these bodies.

“None of them has ever been contacted since then by either national or provincial leadership.

“These are the (selected) church leaders who are now demonstrating open support for the former president and supposedly doing it in the name of the churches in the province,” read the statement.

When he arrived at court, Zuma appeared jovial and warmly greeted his supporters in court with handshakes and hugs.

However, when the issue of his legal fees was introduced to court by Downer, he became stony-faced and sat hunched in the dock.

In March, the DA filed papers at the high court asking it to set aside a 2006 agreement the Presidency had signed over legal costs the former president incurred for his criminal prosecution.

This was after President Cyril Ramaphosa revealed that the agreement, signed by Zuma under then-president Thabo Mbeki, formed the basis for the decision to continue paying for Zuma’s legal fees in the “spy tapes” matter.

Ramaphosa revealed in various parliamentary replies in March that the state had spent R15.3million on Zuma’s legal fees in the “spy tapes” saga since 2006.

The Presidency agreed to abide by a future ruling of the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on the state’s provision of legal assistance to Zuma.

However, it intends to file an affidavit to explain the history of the matter, legal basis, rationale and processes to give the court a better understanding.

After missing the May deadline to file an application for review, Hulley indicated that they still intended to launch an application to review the decision to prosecute Zuma for fraud and corruption.

Once the hearing was over, Zuma delivered his warning: “It will not be pleasant for those who are seen as holier than thou when people come to know massive things about them. If they were to right now tell me I am lying and there’s nothing I can tell about them - they will see. I want to repeat this message because I am tired now of being nice,” he said.

THE INDEPENDENT ON SATURDAY / POLITICS HUB